Ad-PHS project’s workshop in Poland
UNICARE hosted the project partners and local community members in a half-day workshop on June 24th. The stakeholders were a mix of academic, governmental, employer, worker, and labour representatives. Together they discussed PHS services in Poland, and the impact of the upcoming demographic shift will have for the country. Poland has several issues, including the urban-rural divide, lack of investment in the industry, and a low rate of unionization that has significant impacts for workers and end-users.
Regional attitudes towards home care, including elder care, means that a high number of informal care is relied upon (informal care refers to the high rate of family members providing care). This high level of informal care impacts disproportionately on women and often affects their overall participation in the workforce. A lack of definition for PHS workers also complicates this issue even further. In the formal care sector, more than half of the workers are working without a legal contract, leaving them open for abuse. The high number of migrant workers, again the majority being women, was also raised as a concern, including that migrant workers often have unrecognized training which was hypothesized to be leading to a high level of skills mismatch.
Professionalization was a reoccurring topic of discussion. Many participants saw the importance of professionalization and how it could make the industry more attractive as a career for new workers. Because of the above-mentioned demographic shift and the recent COVID pandemic, much attention is being drawn for the need for increased home care services. The group saw this attention as an opportunity to build better training and professionalization opportunities for workers.
Finally, it was concluded that the lack of union density is having a negative impact on both workers and end-users. Low-pay, precarious work and safety concerns were all issues that need to be addressed through social dialogue, and ultimately collective bargaining. The challenges of organizing workers continue to be high, and more needs to be done to generate opportunities for workers to organize.
Participants committed to setting up a local PHS stakeholders working group, which was a direct result of the workshop.