Aged care workers to strike for better pay

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The aged care workforce has voted for a national strike in the middle of the federal election campaign in a push for better pay and conditions.

The May 10 strike, less than two weeks out from the election, was endorsed by union leaders from aged care providers on Wednesday night, with the United Workers Union saying members are fighting for better pay and conditions.

It's the first time the aged care work force has embarked on a national strike, with the union expressing anger at Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The decision was made the day after the Health Services Union began their legal fight to lift aged care workers' wages to about $29 per hour, or by 25 per cent, in the Fair Work Commission.

Some 12,000 aged care workers are expected to walk off the job from eight major care care providers at 160 facilities, affecting 12,700 residents.

The workers are taking the unprecedented step of striking because their pay and conditions are failing workers and residents, UWU Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said on Friday.

"Aged care workers are fed up with waiting, fed up with Scott Morrison's incompetence and fed up with employers' excuses," she said.

"On Wednesday we gave thousands of heartbreaking reports from our whistleblower web site www.agedcarewatch.org.au, describing aged care residents left unshowered, soiled and injured due to a lack of care, to the aged care regulator."

She said these reports were filed after the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and the federal government's budget response.

The Royal Commission noted the sector's workforce was undervalued, understaffed and under-resourced.

She said aged care workers had been promised the sector would be remediated, and would receive COVID-19 resources - but were instead at the back of the queue.

"Monumental failure by Scott Morrison and his incompetent cricket-prioritising Aged Care Services Minister means aged care workers are being forced to hold their employers accountable."

Mr Morrison has said the government will get behind an increase in aged care wages if it is recommended by the Fair Work Commission.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has campaigned on lifting wages for the aged care sector, and said Labor will make a submission to the commission to support the wage rises.

Labor also pledged $2.5 billion to the aged care sector if they are to form government on May 21.

As aged care workers fight for higher wages in the Fair Work Commission, a large percentage of the workforce is considering leaving their jobs in the near future, NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association General Secretary Brett Holmes said Friday.

A survey of NSWNMA members found 80 per cent were short staffed on their last shift, and 78 per cent said staff levels were unsafe and impacted the care they could provide.

"The sector has been ignored for too long and the widespread neglect is a human rights issue, it cannot continue," Mr Holmes said.

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