We need a representation of interests for 24-hour carers!
Let’s get organised!
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We are 60,000 and indispensable!
Every few weeks we, mostly women, travel from Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia or Hungary to Austria, on often overpriced transport, to look after and care for physically and/or psychologically seriously ill people in their homes. For several weeks, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, often completely isolated with the people we care for.
We work as self-employed entrepreneurs, although neither the place, time nor content of the work have the character of self-employment. We work as assistants, although our daily work would be inconceivable without carrying out care activities.
But because our pseudo-self-employment and our status as assistants makes our labour cheaper, our demands have so far gone unheard.
Our social security is almost non-existent, there is no protection for us under labour law. We work for a shameful two to three euros an hour, 24 hours a day. The path to poverty in old age is guaranteed; in retirement we are usually left with no more than one to two hundred euros per month.
Almost all of us are placed with people in need of care by agencies. Agencies that charge a lot of money for their mediation work, from us and from the persons in need of care, with often immoral clauses in their contracts – agencies to which we are largely delivered unprotected. The fact that there are now almost a thousand agencies in a small country like Austria is evidence of the gold-rush atmosphere in this industry.
In the households where we work, in addition to the difficulty of the work, we also repeatedly find inhumane conditions; we are often housed in small chambers that do not deserve the term room; often the food we receive is insufficient. Often our access to electricity, heating or hot water is restricted by the relatives of the person in our care. Often the work we are asked to do (gardening, taking care of animals, etc.) has nothing to do with the actual assistance work. We are often subjected to (sexual) assault and violence by the patient, but also by family members.
It is for all these reasons that we are now organising!
Some of us have joined together with supporters to form the
IG24: Interest group of 24-hour carers
We want to enforce an employment relationship regulated by the public sector and paid accordingly.
...which enable us to consistently confront grievances within the employment relationships, in the placement companies and the families.
The experiences of the Romanian and Slovakian 24-hour counsellors as well as the flagship project CuraFAIR of Volkshilfe Upper Austria clearly show that the free offer of independent legal counselling in the mother tongue already represents an enormous step forward. The quick implementation of counselling centres in every province is therefore an urgent and effective measure.
We work as assistants, although our daily work would be unimaginable without performing care acts.
No more inhumane conditions! Decent accommodation and food, contact points in case of (sexual) assault and violence against us.
We want to regain our dignity as women and as migrant workers and better support each other in our everyday isolation facing often excessive demands.
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