Barend van Lieshout thinks the Abvakabo are putting on a show with the elderly as unwitting extras.
Union Abvakabo FNV has been desperately canvassing for members with actions at care providers HWW Zorg and Amsta. Over the backs of care home residents and without any mandate whatsoever from their almost non-existent membership the union and its rent-a-crowd are trying to drag the care sector back into the last century. With these actions Abvakabo has forfeited its right to exist: Abvakabo is now officially part of the problem, not the solution
From a powerful organisation which supported the underdog in the labour market, the union has become a moribund bureaucracy with a dwindling membership and a taste for in-fighting. Abvakabo FNV has decided to reverse its fortunes by ‘organising’, or mobilising support by actively trying to make headlines, with the SP to lend a hand at these media events.
The care sector makes for a great stage: the sector employs an awful lot of potential union members. What is more, care workers have the sympathy of the public while the statement that we need more care workers sounds plausible enough. It’s not difficult to find an example of hardship to pull at the heartstrings. Abvakabo is strutting backwards and forwards on this stage in Amsterdam and The Hague and selected two care homes as a backdrop for their play.
Only a very few care workers at the homes are card-carrying Abvakabo members. The workers didn’t support the actions. On the contrary, they asked the union to leave. Abvakabo didn’t care one way or the other: the real care workers only served as props in their play.
The solutions the union is proposing are from a bygone era: longer hours, fixed contracts, uniform collective labour agreements and higher wages. These might be solutions to fit the purse of a care worker from 1985 but they are completely wrong for the challenges we are faced with now.
The care sector is crying out for new models in which fewer hours, flexible contracts and diverse labour agreements are the main ingredients. We need this innovation to make care affordable and keep everybody’s purse filled. But why would the union care? Complexity would only stand in the way of shoring up the union’s membership.
And while the union can hide behind the excuse that their single purpose in life is to promote the financial well-being of their membership, the SP has no such excuse. This party, which claims to be ready and willing to govern, has no call to support Abvakabo actions which don’t solve problems and only put the brakes on vital change.
It’s a shame those care homes have residents. People who haven’t asked for strikes and negative publicity about their home. People who haven’t asked to be extras in a play organised by the union and who never wanted to be used as leverage in its attempts at blackmail. The question now is how far the union is willing to go. Strike action in orphanages or hospices? The Abvakabo’s actions are low and disgusting and only serve to show that its role in society has become obsolete.
Barend van Lieshout is a care advisor at Rebel
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