Low pay causing exodus of care workers

The ETUC is calling for investment and fair wages in the care sector after a new report revealed the sector has been hit by an exodus of workers since the pandemic.

Between 2019 and 2021 over 400,000 care workers left the sector, according to European Public Service Union EPSU.

On today’s Global Day of Action for Care, ETUC calls on the EU to:

  1. Insist on investment in care

- through the ‘EU Care Strategy’ promised by President von der Leyen, and

- EU economic and social recommendations (the ‘Semester’) and the review of EU economic policy rules (the recently relaunched ‘economic governance review’) driving increased public investment in care

  1. Enable trade unions to collectively bargain fair pay and working conditions for the mainly female and low-paid care workforce - by adopting strong Directives on Adequate Minimum Wages and Collective Bargaining and Pay Transparency.

ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr said:

“Austerity and privatisation have left the care sector in a perilous condition before the pandemic, and COVID has added enormous strain.

“The EU has set targets for recovery spending on green and digital, but there is no target for social spending. Member states seem to be using some recovery funds for healthcare and to be largely neglecting to invest more in long-term care and childcare. The EU must take the opportunities it has now to create a care sector worthy of the name.”

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“The wages and conditions of care workers have to improve. Women make up 76 % of the 49 million care workers in the EU, filling essential but under-paid and precarious jobs to take care of our loved ones.

“Care work is physically, and emotionally demanding, and grossly undervalued. The two Directives now going through the EU institutions must enable collective bargaining between trade unions and employers to give care workers the reward they need and deserve.”

ETUC believes that looking after the elderly, pre-school children and those with long-term needs such as those with disabilities is not just an economic cost, it is a social and moral obligation.