Care workers present Greater Manchester leaders with a petition for a living wage
The petition calls on Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities to increase the minimum starting salary across the care industry.
Thousands of people have backed the call and the care workers, who are also members of trade union Unison, explained what a difference paying a living wage would make to their lives and to the feeling their jobs are valued by those in charge.
Mr Burnham says the ambition to have a living wage paid as standard is one shared by local councils and work has started to make it a reality.
What is the petition calling for a living wage for care workers?
The petition Greater Manchester: Give Care Workers A Pay Rise calls on the city-region’s 10 councils to require the Foundation Living Wage (£9.90) as a minimum starting salary for all directly employed and commissioned care and support workers.
The petition had received almost 4500 signatures on Monday afternoon (20 December).
Care workers and trade union members handed the petition over in Rochdale ahead of a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
It was presented directly to Greater Manchester deputy mayor Paul Dennett and GMCA healthy lives and quality care portfolio holder Brenda Warrington.
The care workers also spoke with Mr Burnham as well as the leaders of five other councils; Trafford, Manchester, Oldham, Stockport and Rochdale.
The council leaders heard short speeches from care workers, who explained why they are campaigning for a living wage.
What have the campaigners said?
Care workers said salaries needed to rise across the industry to prevent people departing for jobs that pay better elsewhere, to recognise the role they have played as key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and due to rising costs of living making it hard to make ends meet.
Stockport care worker and Unison rep Danielle Dolan, who launched the petition, said: “We worked tirelessly during the pandemic to care for Greater Manchester, but does Greater Manchester care about us?
“We feel under-valued, under-appreciated and under-paid. This is why thousands of excellent dedicated care workers are leaving the profession for better-paid jobs in other industries, which is worsening the social care staffing crisis.
“We are Greater Manchester’s care and support workers. And we demand a pay rise.”
Fellow Unison rep Julia Mwaluke, who works in Salford, said: “As care workers, we have been neglected for too long. Even during this pandemic it feels like the Government forgets we exist.
“We need a living wage so that we can put food on the table for our kids and improve our living conditions. The cost of everything is going up and I know many care workers who have been forced to use food banks.
“This is why we are fighting for all care workers in Greater Manchester to be paid the real living wage.”
Unison North West regional organiser Dan Smith said: “The real living wage is the very least that care workers deserve – but so many providers continue to pay poverty wages to front line staff while extracting profits from public contracts or paying grossly-inflated wages to executives.
“Unison North West and care workers across the region call on local councils to take responsibility for the pay and conditions of social care workers by making the Foundation Living Wage the minimum starting salary for all commissioned social care.
“This can be done- it is within councils’ power to ensure that care workers in their area are paid a real Living Wage. It’s time for our political leaders to show that Greater Manchester really does do things differently.”
What have leaders in Greater Manchester said?
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “We are working together to ensure that all care workers in Greater Manchester are paid fairly for a day’s work.
“Local authorities in Greater Manchester share the ambition to pay the real living wage, with some already paying the rate and others on a clear path to doing so.
“Greater Manchester is also the first place in the UK to be officially recognised as a Living Wage City Region for our ambitious plans.
“We welcome the continued support from Unison as we work together both in Greater Manchester and with national government to achieve this goal.”