SHATTERED dementia carer Tally Birchill was forced to get up in the middle of the night to walk more than five miles to work as rail strike chaos gripped the country.
The dedicated 23-year-old earns £18,000 for her role in a private care home — less than a third of the average train driver.
And to make sure her patients were cared for last week she also took on extra work to cover colleagues caught out by the travel mayhem.
Tally, from Woking, ساري, قالت: “I feel like I have been held to ransom by the strike for trying to do my job and care for vulnerable residents.
“It’s horrible. My elderly dementia patients could easily be one of the strikers’ parents or relatives.
“Nurses, doctors and carers all have to be at work or people suffer and even die.”
She insists she is not “jealous” of rail strikers who earn more than her, but wishes they had considered key workers in their plans.
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Tally’s normal trip to work in Farnham, ساري, usually involves catching a bus or getting a lift with her mum from their family home to Woking station.
She then gets a train to Guildford followed by another bus which drops her close to work. It usually takes an hour.
But during the strikes last week, with just one in five services running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, her only option was to take a two hour bus journey or stay with a co-worker who lives more than five miles away from the care home.
قالت: “I know what I signed up for to work in elder care but not one of the darling elderly people we look after deserves to suffer for someone else’s pay packet.
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“Frontline carers and nurses like myself have to get to work no matter what or people miss out on medication, don’t get their meals and miss out on critical therapy.
“I have had to be up at 3am. I have stood in line for over-crowded buses to ensure I got to work on time and have had to get into work earlier to cover for colleagues who were in a worse position than me.
“And one day I stayed with a colleague, who lives five miles away from the home, and we walked in together. It was better than getting on another packed bus. It took about two hours each way.
“On Saturday, when I was supposed to be off I did another 12- hour shift because another carer was unable to get any transport and lived too far away to walk.
“Most nights I have survived on four or five hours of sleep.
“I wasn’t forced to work extra hours but I want to make sure the patients are OK. They need absolute continuity of care.
“I’m not complaining because I love the work I do. But this week has had us under a lot of pressure and I can’t leave people in pain or leave bedpans unemptied.
“By the time I got to work at 8am I had been up for hours. I’ve not been able to take my full lunch break because of staff shortages, eating my sandwich in 15 minutes.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week blasted the decision to strike, الإصرار: “This is not a badly paid industry. A train driver’s median salary is on average £59,000, a nurse is £31,000.”
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday called for reform of the British rail system.
هو قال: “I would say, given the circumstances we’re in, I think what we want to see is reform and improvement in the way the railways work and modernisation.
“We’re putting more into the railways than any previous government.
“I think the travelling public has a right to expect some basic reforms, like with ticket offices, like with walking time, and some of these other practices that really nobody defends except the union leaders.”
في أثناء, the median wage for a rail worker is £44,000, حول 60 per cent above the national average salary of £26,000.
But there are fears a second wave of strikes by union baron Mick Lynch and his RMT union colleagues could be held in just two weeks.
The RMT, which organised the action, only needs to give a fortnight’s notice of strikes.
A fresh strike could affect the holiday plans of thousands.
And it could create further stress for Tally, who is juggling her job — which usually comprises four days of 12 hour shifts — with a nursing degree.
قالت: “After a 12 hour shift I still have paperwork and my college course to do.
“I don’t get the benefits train drivers do and the structured shift work sounds like a luxury.”
Tally hasn’t had a pay rise since she started working in care two years ago while train drivers have had rises at 20 times the rate of average workers.
Drivers’ pay increased from £42,482 to £59,198 in the decade to 2021.
And the RMT is calling for a further seven per cent pay bump for rail workers.
The majority of Brits oppose the strike, a YouGov poll found.
It showed that 45 per cent were against the action, مع فقط 37 per cent of the public in support.
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There are fears the action could set off a summer of strikes and lead to similar walkouts by teachers, health care workers and local government staff.
Tally added: “There has to be a different way they [RMT] can negotiate without hurting key workers.”