Updated: Aug 2
Things that make me go ‘Grrrrrr’.
It is strange to be in lockdown when so many cities in the world are approaching their post-lockdown, acceptable percentage-of-population vaccinated, (open) new normal.
Last weekend Sydney saw a protest in our Central Business District. Some – certainly not all – of those involved in this protest were participating because they are close to the edge financially, and this lockdown threatens their ability to put food on the table and pay their rent. Those areas of Sydney experiencing the harshest lockdown conditions are in Local Government areas of a relatively lower socio-economic status. Often, this manifests as three generations sharing a home, and the adults of the household having a number of part-time jobs where terms of employment don’t cover sickness or holiday leave. In other words, the workers of these households don’t have a lot of financial cushioning when the going gets tough – and, unfortunately, they are part of a work demographic that doesn’t tick those boxes that easily secures Government assistance.
And the going is tough. I am in no way supporting last week’s protest. I am making the observation that some participants are having to decide between a paid day at work or standing in a queue for hours to get a vaccine. Additionally, if they get a sniffle, they have to make a choice between a paid day at work or taking a test where they cannot attend work until they receive their results – results that can take longer than 24 hours to receive.
Another particular ‘grrrr’ in this regrettable situation is that many of these workers are women, and women in traditionally ‘caring’ roles. They look after our vulnerable; our very old, our very young, our sick, and our disabled. These women are so poorly paid that they must make the above decisions in these times of Covid – decisions that no employed person in a developed country should have to make. Were they paid decently, 24 hours waiting for the result of a Covid Test, or the required self-quarantine period relating to being in a Covid ‘hot’ zone would not have such dire consequences on the family budget.
Why is it that these jobs that are associated with caring – those jobs traditionally considered women’s work – are paid so poorly? Day after day, we see how critical these roles are to our society. They are frontline services and in these times of Covid, these women have to make impossible decisions between health and money that may effect the health and well-being of themselves, their families and those they care for. Why the hell were they/are they not paid to receive their vaccinations or given the ability to be vaccinated without having to sacrifice a family budget critical work-shift in this health crisis?
My final ‘grrrrrr’. Can we not rewrite the rate of pay for these socially critical services? Whoever made the call that work traditionally done by women was close to worthless in financial value should have to front up to their mothers, teachers and carers in hospitals and in old age facilities. It is about time that the psychological expectation of women sacrificing to look after those they care for is blown away.
Caring is possibly the most critical job in any society.
Time to blow away a paradigm that can only be interpreted as extreme injustice.