Thursday, September 06, 2007

Financial aid for LabourStart wanted

1 comment:

Ian MacLeod said...

I thought I'd leave my own version of that email to Carol Sawyers, the Fremantle Trust Chief Executive. I was a paramedic (specialty of neonatology stabilization and transport, and worked regular ambulance - in East Oakland), military Hospital Corps, and did a lot as a nursing aide and even worked in a nursing home - for half a day; then I quit. I had 36 patients (all to myself) who had just been given "bowel care", meaning Surfac and Dulcolax, to gunpowder for the older folks there. My first patient had feces up to his chin, literally. After I'd gotten him in a Hoyer lift and taken him to the shower and cleaned, dressed, and then cleaned and changed the bed, he promptly shat again. Others had similar problems. I was up to patient number four (missing breakfasts) by noon. When my supervisor tried to chew me out, he ended up wearing number four's unwanted oatmeal... So I've a lot of sympathy and empathy for these people. Oh, I was also fired when an ambulance company tried to go union; we worked 96 hours on, 24 off, and made less than minimum wage. Anyhow, here's my letter:

To Carol Sawyers, Fremantle Trust Chief Executive

Dear Ms Sawyers,

There has been a movement of this sort by large corporations and the "Old Money" wealthy all over the world for a very long time, human greed being what it is. Lately, however, and to your misfortune, it has both gotten more open as they sense what may be ultimate victory, and it has received more general attention as communication technology has become cheap enough for even the lowest-end workers to possess it. That puts you and your bid for slave laborers squarely in the international spotlight. The more draconian your responses become, the more negative publicity you are bound to receive. At some point in the very near future it will, as a result, become impossible for you to do business unless you start taking the homeless in off the streets and trying to bill the government for them.

People who have to half kill themselves just to survive rarely make the best workers; nor do those who have just been, in essence, robbed at gunpoint, which is what you are attempting to do. This means that even if you win, you still lose. Your workers, if they are exhausted by working more than one job and resentful because they are denied even reasonable compensation and consideration, are simply not going to work well. Your operation will decrease in quality until, again, you cannot stay in business.

Then there are the considerations of simple humanity. It is utterly disgraceful that you can risk the loss, and attempt the harm, of such highly trained, experienced and committed care workers who provide high quality care and support to Barnet's elderly and vulnerable residents. These same workers are mostly women and many have to work part-time to balance their family and caring responsibilities. The UK Equal Opportunities Commission has recently warned of a 'caring time bomb' with poor pay and staff turnover undermining the caring professions. "Pocket money pay undermines care services." How in the world can you do this to other human beings, workers and patients alike? Exactly what kind of accounting system is it that you use in place of a conscience? I strongly suggest, for your own good as well as that of others, that you reverse your decision to reduce the terms and conditions of the Fremantle care workers or hand back the service for vulnerable elders to Barnet Council. You might also consider - though I understand that imagination is work you never trained for - what it might be like if you were forced to exist under the conditions you are attempting to create, either as a worker or as one of those they care for. Would you want a parent of yours, a sibling, a child, or even yourself, to have to try to live under such conditions? I seriously doubt it.

Most Sincerely,

Ian MacLeod
Oregon, USA
September 9th, 2007