0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 17.06.20

Dear Member

Hello again everyone! We hope you’re well. We’ve reached the middle of the week and it’s been another busy one; we’re sure that’s been the case for many of you too! We really do hope you’re all keeping well through what continues to be a very difficult time. Remember, if you’re struggling with your emotional or mental wellbeing, don’t suffer in silence, try to reach out to a friend, family member or a colleague and if you need more specialist support there are lots of services available. Here’s a link to the NHS webpage, detailing a number of useful helplines https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/  

Online meeting- members with disabilities

We know that for many of our members with disabilities, the Corona virus pandemic and the associated impact on the way we work has been even more complex and challenging. As with all of our members who are protected under the Equality Act, we are determined that our disabled members are not  unfairly treated. The TUC have produced a report on the impact of Corona virus on people with protected characteristics which members may find of interest. The section specifically related to disabilities is section 10 TUC report.

Our Equalities Officer, Karen Smith will be holding an online meeting for our disabled members. The meeting will be held on Microsoft Teams on Tuesday 23 June at 4pm. If you’d like to attend, please email unison1@wirral.gov.uk and we will invite you. The meeting will be an opportunity for members with disabilities to share their experiences and seek advice.

BBC news coverage

The BBC news ran a story today on shielding workers and the difficulties they have faced during this pandemic, to which one of our members contributed. Here is the link to the piece which we hope you will find interesting. The shielding story is around 22 minutes in. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000k58b

Calling all Care Workers!!!

We hope that by now our members, in particular those working in the Care Sector are familiar with the aims and achievements of our Care Workers campaign but just in case, here’s a re-cap!

At the beginning of this crisis we launched our Care Workers campaign, we called for the provision of adequate PPE, The Real Living Wage and full sick pay for all front line care staff who are absent from work for covid-19 related reasons. In April, the Council agreed that it would increase funding to the care sector enabling providers to pay the Real Living Wage! And in May we achieved a further agreement from the Council that further funding would go into the care sector with the expectation that it be used to fund full sick pay for Care Workers who are off with any Covid-19 related reason. This included anyone who was off because they are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding) or living with someone who is, as well as those workers who had tested positive or were symptomatic.

We were and still are delighted with these achievements, they are great wins for Care Workers and are to be celebrated. We welcome the council’s decisions on both the Real Living Wage and sick pay and we are really pleased that many of our Care Workers in the borough have now seen a wage increase and know, that if they are off work for Covid-19 related reasons, they will be paid properly. However, sadly this is not the case for many of our Care Workers. Many weeks after the agreements were reached with the council, we are still hearing of stories of care providers refusing to implement the Real Living Wage and telling care workers that all they are entitled to is SSP, when they are off due to Corona virus. So if this is you, we want to hear from you! If your manager is telling you that they don’t have the funds to pay the Real Living Wage or full sick pay, we need to hear your experiences.

Please email us in confidence with your experiences and we will ensure that each case is investigated and that care providers who have received council funding and are not using it as intended are robustly challenged. Please send your experiences to unison1@wirral.gov.uk.

Covid-19 and BAME

Public Health England released a report yesterday (that can be read here ) on the impact of Covid-19 on Black and Minority Ethnic people. This was prompted by data showing that black and Asian groups had the highest death rates from coronavirus. People of Bangladeshi ethnicity had twice the risk of death than people of white British ethnicity, accounting for age and sex.

This is the second report after the initial report released by the government was found to be an edited  version with key recommendations omitted. The report yesterday contains several significant recommendations and says the unequal impact may be explained by social and economic inequalities, racism, discrimination and stigma, differing risks at work and inequalities in the prevalence of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and asthma, which can increase the severity of Covid-19.

Wirral Unison is making important proposals to employers for how our BAME members can be appropriately protected, with enhanced risks assessed as the return to work continues. Please get in touch if you are affected.

Getting to Work

Many people are beginning to return (or contemplate a return) to workplaces, notwithstanding that the official advice is still work from home if you can. We thought it would be a good time to reflect upon the guidance and advice around getting to work.

The government is asking people to only use public transport if necessary, and if you must, try and avoid peak times. Members will probably be aware that face coverings are now compulsory on public transport, including ferries; however it doesn’t need to be a surgical mask, a scarf for example is fine. You should also follow the guidance provided by the transport provider, for instance Mersey Rail.

Cars will be one option for people, but beware of the problems with social distancing if you are sharing a car. Car Parking charges are currently suspended in Wirral, and we welcome that in the current climate. Of course you can, if able, also walk to work, or cycle. If you don’t have a bike why don’t you check and see if you employer can help. For instance Wirral Council operate two schemes, an Interest Free Loan or a Salary Sacrifice Scheme (we urge you check which scheme if financially better for you).

Please remember that if you are in the Clinically Vulnerable group, including if you are pregnant, and possibly those from the BAME community, how you get to work should be addressed in your risk assessment. Your mode of transport could make the difference as to whether it is safe for you to return to the workplace. If you need advice, then of course drop us a line.

That’s all for today everyone. We’ll be back in touch tomorrow with further updates for you.

Take care and stay safe.

In solidarity!

Lois and Dave

Dave: davidnjones@wirral.gov.uk  07880199539
Lois: loisfounds1@wirral.gov.uk   07384512521
Branch Office:0151 666 3040


Published on: June 18, 2020