Image: WAITRESS. Acrylic on Slate. 11 x 25 cm. 2014.
THOSE WHO SERVE.
The recent announcement of one off payment for essential service workers is welcome of course but does it just sweep the problem under the carpet?
To summarise: The Financial Times lists doctors and nurses as “key workers” and also include delivery drivers and those who work in nurseries, care homes, food factories, and warehouses. However they fail to mention refuse collectors? They cite that the majority of key workers hold ‘some of the worst paid and most insecure jobs in the British economy’. Referring to official data they suggest that below the minimum wage is paid to over 40% of childcare workers aged 25 and over.Working on Zero hours contracts applies to almost 60% of care in the home employees. The result being that regular hours, regular incomes, contracts of employment, workers rights protection and sick pay are not guaranteed, and seldom seen. Also the classification as ‘Self Employed’ applies to delivery drivers, field and food factory workers and many others.
It can be argued that if the system for these low paid workers was centralised, or at least subject to more governmental scrutiny and control, we could find ourselves in less of a mess than we are now. If something comes out of this pandemic it is the increasing realisation that we all need to look after those who look after us.