0151 666 3040 unison@wirralunison.co.uk

Coronavirus Update 25.03.20

Dear Members

We hope you are all well. The weather has been like a spring day, but we know that many of you are coming to terms with being based at home. Although notwithstanding the Government’s announcement on Monday, many of our members continue to be out working in the community, or going to workplaces. Whether at home or out and about: Please Stay Safe!

For many of us homeworking is a new experience, certainly on a regular basis, and one that may take some getting used to.

There will undoubtedly be a period of adjustment, maybe whilst you await equipment, or create a suitable work environment. But these are unusual times, and there should be an understanding that you are working from home primarily to help prevent the spread of the virus. This is not the time to be prioritising the most effective way of working, ensuring targets or KPI’s etc. We know know our members are dedicated and passionate but we also know it’s a time to stay safe!

We have had positive discussions with the Council and come to an understanding that we all need to be flexible and safe; we are sure many other employers will also be reasonable.

A Suitable Workspace. The Employer has a duty of care to you; they do not want you to develop back or neck problems etc, neither does UNISON.  Normally we would expect you to have a suitable chair, desk etc, but these are unusual times, many of you will not have an appropriate place of work at home and will be making the best of it. But to compensate you need to take regular short breaks, and if you start to develop at stiff neck or back, why not finish for the day. If that means you are not as productive as normally, that is in our view understandable in the circumstances

Communication. Stay in touch with your colleagues, when we are confined indoors for much of the time, with little social interaction it is important we don’t let any of us feel isolated or cut off. Let’s look out for each other!

We will return to this issue again but please get in touch with any concerns

People at High and Very High Risk
There are a number of people (about 1.4million) who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you are in this category you should have received a letter from NHS England, but it includes:
• Solid organ transplant recipients.
• People with specific cancers:
• People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
• People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections.
• People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
• Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.

If you live with someone in this category you should stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing your contact outside the home. If you care for but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely vulnerable, you should still stringently follow guidance on social distancing
If you are in this category or you live with someone in this category you should therefore not attend the work place. You should expect to receive your normal pay

There is a larger group of people at high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus. These are those over 70, those with an underlying medical condition and those who are pregnant.  If you fall into those categories you should particularly stringent in socially distancing, and be home based, working from home if possible. Our clear expectation is that you should receive full pay, in line with the direction of the Prime Minister. If you are the primary carer, or live with someone in this category you should take similar measures. Speak to your employer – if you have any problems get in touch with us

Care Workers vs Covid-19
UNISON North West has launched a major campaign to defend the interest of social care workers who are on the frontline in the struggle against the virus.

We strongly believe that care workers should receive full pay if sick, self-isolating or stringently socially distancing during the course of this crisis. As the Prime Minster said: no one should be financially worse off for doing the right thing.  We have called on the Council to facilitate this. NHS Workers are crucial, but we also recognise the valuable role of Care Workers. We want employers and the Council to do likewise; if necessary the Government should make the necessary finances available, but it should be implemented without delay.

We welcome todays Government announcement that mass home testing for coronavirus will be available within days, and that NHS staff will be a priority. However we note that people will have to buy the test; we call on all our employers to provide the tests for all staff, and at the earliest possible opportunity

We are pleased  to report that a number of schools, who were looking to make redundancies in the coming months, have listened to the representations of Unison to stop! They have now shelved their proposals for the immediate future; that will provide relief for our members. Not all schools have yet taken that approach and we will continue to apply the pressure. We believe all schools and other employers should pause any potential redundancies. No Job Cuts, No Pay Cuts!

In solidarity!

Lois and Dave

Dave: davidnjones@wirral.gov.uk 07880199539
Lois: loisfounds1@wirral.gov.uk  07384512521

Published on: March 26, 2020