Why care work is still being undervalued

Just hours earlier, the government was forced to make a U-turn on its savage surcharge for migrant NHS and care workers, so each strike of the hands was like beating a drum of victory. For those of us who had been campaigning for this policy change in peacetime onthe basis that it discriminated against some of the lowest paid workers, most of whom are women, the victory felt bitter sweet. You will no doubt recall the viral footage of an undocumented migrant who risked his life to scale a building in orderto rescue a four-year-old who was dangling from the balcony. In response, the Deputy President of the far-right Front National, said: “If you tell me, we’ll make that one official because of his act of bravery andwe’llexpelall the others, I’ll sign up to that.” Here’s the thing, care work is heroic with or without coronavirus. It requires extraordinary patience, skill and thoughtfulness to provide personal, emotional and medical support to people with often complex needs. This is activism in an age ofisolation and we are calling for urgent action from government to end the crisis in care homes and save lives. That includes guaranteeing a real living wage and employment protectionsforall care workers, along with testing and protective gear, because until it is possible for carers to self-isolate we cannot hope to reduce the spread of infection in caresettings, whichnowmake up a third of all Covid-related deaths.