Carers need support, not just applause

UNISON has welcomed the return of clap for carers this week, but we urge both the public and politicians to start focussing more on pay and practical support rather than just applause and appreciation.

Since COVID-19 started spreading last year, UNISON has been at the forefront of those fighting for the public service workers – the key workers – fighting the virus.

UNISON was the first to highlight the issue of sick pay at the very start of the pandemic and went on to champion the supply of PPE for all on the frontline, making sure all employers had the best health and safety policies and protections in place for all workers.

Just this week the union has led calls for schools to close, BTec exams to be cancelled and wrote to the Health and Safety Executive to push for stronger workplace measures to protect workers in the light of the more virulent strain of COVID-19.

Now UNISON is reminding the Westminster government that applause cannot drown out calls for decent pay and safe working conditions for all key workers.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “We are pleased that clap for carers is back as public recognition for everything all our key workers are doing fighting COVID is really important.

“But applause and appreciation do not replace pay and practical support for our public service workers – the people who are keeping our communities, our country, running – and all key workers.

“UNISON has spent years campaigning for proper pay for carers and all the other workers who keep our public services running. A focus on public displays of affection for them, whilst welcome, will not deter us in holding all governments to account.

“Public service workers were told in December they would be subjected to yet more austerity and another pay freeze by the Westminster government. And here we are again with the nation thanking them on their doorsteps.

“They deserve both – the appreciation and the decent pay. No amount of clapping will drown out our calls for an end to poverty pay and safe working conditions for all our members – and all key workers.”