UK’s biggest union warns healthcare staff calling in sick as they cannot afford to refuel

The UK’s biggest union has warned that healthcare workers across the country are calling in sick for work because they cannot afford petrol cars.

“[Petrol price rises are] having a significant impact on people whose jobs require them to travel. So community health workers, health visitors, social workers, social workers… say they can no longer afford to do their jobs,” said Christina McAnea, general secretary of public services union Unison, at ‘The Guardian’.

“In fact, we hear of people who prefer to phone to be sick because they don’t have the money to fill up their car and do their job. And more and more people are leaving public services, even in local communities. There are huge vacancies in the local administration.

As the cost of a tank of fuel hits a record £100 due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK economy is “flying with the wind”.

According to McAnea, “We don’t want to strike low-wage workers. But if there is no alternative, what else can people do?

“If we have a government where they get 2-3% pay rises and we have inflation of 10% or even more by the end of the year and they are already paying a disproportionate share of their fuel income, housing, energy and food costs, if you’re a low-wage worker…it has a huge impact on people.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is facing criticism over rising costs of living and inflation after analysts warned of a ‘wage and price spiral’.

“We don’t want to disturb people and we know that has a huge impact on people. But there comes a time when there is no alternative,” McAnea said.

“The same could happen in England and Wales. I’m not saying there will be strikes tomorrow, but there’s a lot of anger out there and people are getting more desperate,” she added.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 1:16pm on Monday June 20th, 2022

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