Two hundred thousand care workers are paid below the minimum wage. By refusing to cover mileage and for travel in between clients, private firms do their staff out of £850 per year.
For people already struggling to get by on pay which doesn’t even cover the basics, that makes life very hard.
I know because this happened to me. And when you’re on next to nothing then being paid for mileage and for the time it takes to travel between homes can make a huge difference.
It should be a national scandal, a disgrace, that those public servants who look after our elderly and most vulnerable, who work hard in incredibly tough circumstances are so disregarded that private firms can get away without paying even the barest minimum.
This makes me angry and let’s be honest, it would make most people angry too.
But for the 1.2million care-workers employed by private firms it doesn’t stop there. 80% of them are also engaged on zero-hours contracts with no guarantee of work from one week to the next.
But because they don’t have rich and powerful friends the Government haven’t listened to them. In fact on zero-hours contracts the Government even whipped their MPs to vote in Parliament to keep them. It is a scandal.
I was lucky, I eventually managed to get a job at my local council which valued and invested in its employees and for the past fifteen years, first as a care-worker and now a full-time trade union official and parliamentary candidate I have fought to make a difference for some of our most important but lowest-paid workers.
We campaigned to keep vital care services in-house, for instance, not only saving the council money but crucially stopping redundancies and pay cuts in the process.
But without a Labour government, there is only so much we can do. And make no mistake, a Labour government would make a huge difference to the people I have worked with and alongside my whole life.
Raising the minimum wage and clamping down on employers who illegally underpay would put that £850 that I and my colleagues missed out on back in our pockets and then some.
It is clear that for the millions of low-paid workers in the care services and beyond they need a party and a government which will stand up for them. If I win the support of people in Ashton-under-Lyne come May I will work night and day to make sure their voices are heard in the corridors of power.
Angela Rayner is a former care-worker at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council and currently Regional Convenor for UNISON elected to represent 200,000 public sector workers across the North West. She is also Labour's candidate for Ashton-under-Lyne, you can find out more about her here www.angelarayner.com/.