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CPOW in the time of COVID-19

Sara Charlesworth

April 24, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 has been profound and disruptive – CPOW researchers, most of whom are active teaching academics, have had to reconfigure their work and non-work lives to meet the additional demands of online engagement with students. We have also had to rethink research projects in train as face to face engagement with the individuals, communities and organisations with whom we work has become impossible.

Most importantly, however, given CPOW’s mission to contribute to sustainable, fair and decent work for all, is the shattering impact of Covid-19 on more marginalised and vulnerable people and communities. As just one example, my own research is mainly concerned with low-waged women’s work, currently in the aged care sector. While there have been some system and organisational responses to limit the spread of COVID-19 to elderly residents and clients both here and overseas, there has been far less concern about the destructive impact on the lives of the frontline workers who provide aged care. In many countries, including Australia, workers are having their hours cut and rosters changed on a daily basis and many, especially in home care, do not have access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). A very recent study across England Wales and Scotland by 2018 CPOW Visiting Research Fellow, Professor Lydia Hayes (University of Kent) and her colleagues has found considerable concern among frontline care workers about adequate access to PPE, not being paid when workers are put into isolation and other COVID-related health and safety concerns. Elsewhere, too, frontline care workers, as both essential but forgotten workers, are falling through the holes of national ‘safety nets’ being hastily pinned together.

As CPOW researchers and fellow travellers we can make a difference by giving voice to many people and communities whose voices have been barely heard in all the COVID-19 ructions. That is why we are starting our CPOW in the time of COVID-19 blog. Please contribute via the form located at the bottom of this page, about the impact of COVID-19 on the people and communities with whom you conduct your research.

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