Thursday, 8 August 2013

This is what working on a “zero hours” contract looks like

Years ago when I worked at Mc Donalds  all shop floor workers were on "zero hours" contracts but the use of these contracts were not as widespread as they are now and generally speaking employers like Mc D  would keep pretty quite about the subject. It's worrying to see how far we have gone in eroding the rights of the workers in this country that the employers shamelessly and openly use these contracts on mass scale to reduce their costs at the expense of the workers and consumers. More worryingly though is the general public resignation that "there is no alternative" under the current economic conditions and arguments such as "zero hours contracts are good as they provide flexibility to the employees" are not uncommon. But below is the reality of what zero hours contract mean.

Caroline is a homecare worker, and is on a “zero hours” contract

My name is Caroline, I have worked as a homecare worker for 25 years. When I first started as a homehelp i worked for the local council, I was asked how many hours I wanted to work and what time did I need to start and finish. I had set hours and a full rota of service users that I visited on a regular day and time. I had a set wage, sick pay, pension and holiday pay. I was given training and this was on going throughout my in house service. The service user was given time to have their needs met without rushing.  We had time to build up a relationship, listen to their concerns and worries so they would feel comfort in their own environment.
This was a good service.
Then about 10 years ago the local council opted out of homecare , I was tupe’d over to a non profit organisation and care workers lost their holiday pay, their sick pay, pension and had their hourly rate cut. The cuts were massive and we lost more than half of what we had. Also the service user had their time cut. For example if you 1 hour to do personnel care breakfast, this was cut to 45minutes. So we had to do the same work in less time. This meant no more time to hear their worries and concerns and having to get things ready as soon as you walked in the door.
This affected the service users as they said no one cares about them, “we can’t rush, we are old”. Then just over 2years ago we got tupe’d over to a profit making company, as the non profit lost the contract. Carers lost what little sick pay and contract hours we had.  We were put on zero contract hours, were not paid for travel time but just paid on client contact. This happened 3 months after we were tupe’d over. Once again the service user’s time was cut you now had to do personnel care breakfast in half an hour.
This has a very big impact on service users; they are rushed, they get upset and depressed and they feel no cares for them and that they are forgotten because they are old. My mum had a stroke and with the help of her local in house cares we managed to keep her in her own home. It pains me to say if she was alive today I would give up homecare to look after her as I know she would not receive the care she and all service users should have.
This should be time to care time and time to do your work as it should be done. These service users are known as vulnerable adults. How vulnerable do they have to been to get a good service? If they were children and receiving a bad service people would be up in arms because you can’t do that to children. But we do it to our elderly even though their needs are the same they need help to wash dress get their breakfast. Don’t be fooled by the word adult as you think they can cope. They can’t that’s why they need the service." from LabourList

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