Joanna Lumley and comedian Jo Brand are backing a national campaign organised by UNISON to urge the government to end poverty wages for care staff.
Both performers recorded individual video messages of support for the Pay Fair for Care online rally, which was attended by care staff, politicians, unions, charities and employers.
Many employees in care homes and those looking after people in the community earn less than the real living wage of £9.50 an hour (£10.85 in London). UNISON – the biggest union representing care staff in the UK – wants ministers to ensure every care worker is on the real living wage rate as a bare minimum.
More than 23,000 people have already signed a parliamentary petition calling for a £3.9billion special support fund to make fair pay a reality for care staff across the country.
In her message, Joanna Lumley highlights how care workers are an ‘invisible part’ of the health system and the ‘forgotten ones’. The actor says:
I’m backing UNISON’s call for a living wage for all care workers. They seem to be the invisible part of our nation’s health system. It seems massively unfair they’re the forgotten ones. These people who do so much for so many people, so selflessly, 24/7. Thanks to you, you’re keeping the country going. So, bless your sweet hearts and, as Patsy would say, ‘Cheers, sweeties. Thanks a lot’.
In her video, Jo Brand says:
In a parallel universe, dedication and hard work would be rewarded with decent pay. Unfortunately, we do not live in a parallel universe – we’re in this one. And care workers simply are not rewarded for the very, very hard work they do. Especially in these really, really difficult times. All I’m here to do is to say pay care workers a living wage.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:
Care staff have been applauded as national heroes. But Covid has forced them into life-threatening working conditions and caused untold mental strain. The vast majority don’t even earn a living wage and cannot comfortably feed their families or pay the rent. The message to ministers is that it’s time care staff got a fair deal.