Speaking on behalf of the NEC, Kate contributed to the debate as Conference condemned the underfunding, over many years, of social care and backed a range of measures to keep up the campaign for adequate funding for the service and for social care workers’ pay and conditions, that puts women at its heart.
Kate told delegates that somehow the work of the social care workforce, mainly women, who care for our elderly, support disabled people to live full lives and care for our children, including those with additional needs, is valued less than almost every other form of work.
“Yet social care is the fundamental basis of a decent and caring society,” said Kate.
“If you can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable, you have to look at how it treats the workers who care for its most vulnerable.
“And valued workers provide quality services.”
She spoke about the situation in Scotland where the government has made money available to ensure that social care workers are paid the Scottish Living Wage.
“I would like to tell you this has been implemented in full, and indeed many workers have benefitted.
“However many in the private sector have not met this commitment and UNISON continues to challenge this,” added Kate.
She also pointed to the Fair Work inquiry into social care in Scotland, and the new body that has now been established as an effective voice for the social care sector.
She called for a sea change in how social care is viewed.
Thanking the Women’s Committee for keeping the focus on this issue, Kate urged, “We need to value the work our social care members do because it is crucially important to us all.
“It is likely that the vast majority of us will need social care at some point in our lives and I am sure we want it provided by workers who are not only caring and compassionate, but who are valued, respected and decently paid for the work they do.”