CARERS cried out for more clout in the workplace yesterday as cuts to services and lack of legislation see women crumbling under pressure.
Thousands of women take care of children, the disabled and the elderly without any renumeration — saving the Treasury £100 billion a year.
Carers shared their stories of sacrifice at this year’s TUC Women’s Conference, telling delegates of the punitive measures they face at work.
GMB delegate Mary Turner recounted how taking care of her husband when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s became a daily challenge.
“I never got any help from the social services, from the day he was assessed until I had to ring up, two years later, when he started being incontinent.
“I was then offered some help and that help was twice a week, half an hour.
“But they couldn’t give me the same carer every time, I knew that when the aggression was setting in I didn’t want to come and find the carer and him injured.”
Ms Turner said she felt pressured to place her husband in a care home but they didn’t have beds for him.
“Carers who do ask for flexibility [at work] should not have to beg and cry,” she said.
“It shouldn’t be a lottery of help for those who have given their entire lives to work and their communities.”
Transport union RMT pointed to recent figures showing that 56 per cent of full-time female workers considering quitting their jobs when caring responsibilities loom.
Delegates demanded that carers’ legislation be beefed up as bosses increasingly refused requests for flexible work on the basis of “business needs.”
Requests are left at the discretion of the employer, which bases its decision on whether it sees the request as “reasonable” or not.
Unite delegate Maggie Ryan recounted how her requests for leave were “sometimes fine, no problems, then wait, we’re on 20 questions.”
She said: “We don’t want to enter a game show every time we ask” for time off.
“We have to do it as an emergency, not feel worthless.”