Care workers in Northern Ireland are being forced to choose to ‘eat of heat’ due to the cost of living crisis, a union has warned.

Speaking to the News Letter, Unison official John Patrick Clayton called for a strategy to tackle low pay in health and social care.

Mr Clayton said: “It is really unacceptable in our society that we would find ourselves in a position where people who are providing a huge contribution, providing services for our most vulnerable, keeping the public safe, caring for our older people, our sick people, would find themselves having to make a choice whether to heat their homes or put food on the table.

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“That is something that has to be dealt with. That might shock people to think that people who do such important work that should be valued by society would find themselves in that position. But that is the reality.”

The union official highlighted the pressures being felt by home care workers having to drive long distances in their own vehicles to work.

“Some are experiencing very serious problems because of the cost-of-living crisis, particularly those workers who use their vehicles to deliver care,” he said.

“They’re experiencing the cost-of-living crisis really acutely, and the reality is that the mileage their employers give them is simply being outstripped by the cost of fuel.”

Mr Clayton urged the government to tackle the crisis through its Fair Work Forum.

“We want to see that fair work forum deliver for those workers,” he said. “That has got to be a real priority.”

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