Long-term care workers in Poland have launched a nationwide campaign to improve conditions and care quality. The workers, members of UNI Global Union affiliate OPZZ “Konfederacja Pracy” (KP), joined together on 6 December in Warsaw for the launch.
Long-term care is a fast-growing sector of the Polish economy, employing more than 55,000 workers. By 2050, 33 per cent of the Polish population is predicted to be 65 and over – up from 19 per cent in 2020 – and the union is calling for improvements now to mitigate growing pressures on care workers and the care system.
The campaign will focus on helping workers unite and organize to ensure that long term care workers are paid and respected properly for the important work they do, and to ensure that the sector is adequately funded and regulated. There needs to be enough staff and enough time to ensure that recipients get the quality of care they deserve in the last years of their lives.
Coming out of the pandemic, long-term care experts recommended greater training and investment in care staff in Poland to improve resiliency and readiness. The union says that not enough has changed.
Michal Lewandowski, Chairman of the OPZZ “Konfederacja Pracy” said:
“We will continue helping care workers organize alongside building a coalition of trade unions, families, NGOs and other stakeholders to push for legislation that will ensure decent working conditions and the highest quality of care for the elderly.”
Ania Bacia, Chairwoman of the OPZZ “Konfederacja Pracy” trade union at Orpea Polska, said:
“Above all, we want to do our job as well as possible, to take the best care of our patients. After a five-year effort at Orpea, we now have a global access agreement with the company to make our voices heard. This agreement is the result of the concerted effort of nearly 300 members of our union.
“We are now in negotiations with the company to further improve working conditions and wages, but our experience shows that a stronger regulatory framework governing the care sector would better compel employers to provide sustainable conditions for workers and better quality of care for patients. Among other things, we are asking for stronger regulations that set reasonable standards for the ratio of caregivers to patients. This change is one of many necessary for better care quality.”
Barbara Dors, Chairwoman of the OPZZ “Konfederacja Pracy” union representing employees of public nursing homes said:
“The problems of long-term care workers employed in both public and private entities are very similar. The most common is that there are too few people to work around the residents which results in too little time to take care of the residents as needed. In addition, staff salaries are very low. For this reason, there are few people willing to do this work that is hard and carries a high responsibility, which results in an overload of work for current employees. We hope to work with government on systemic improvements necessary to provide decent working conditions and quality care.”