0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 19.06.20

Dear Member

Hello again All! We’ve reached Friday- hurray! We hope you’re all well and looking forward to a well-deserved rest over the weekend if you have some time off, and of course if you’re working during the weekend, we hope you get some time to relax soon. It’s been another busy week for us all and we’d just like to thank our seconded officer team and our admin team who continue to support members.

Alert level reduced

You may well have seen in the media today that the alert level in the UK has been reduced from 4 to 3. This means that the Covid-19 epidemic is considered to be in general circulation in the country. Whilst many of us have become sceptical about some of the interpretations the government have placed upon the scientific evidence, we all want to move beyond this pandemic. Therefore any scientific indications that the virus and its impact is in retreat will be welcome.

Of course as we move to a lower alert level, we remember the 42,461 people who have died as a result of Covid-19 according to official figures. We are also mindful of the mistakes and wrong assumptions that have been made by this government over the past 6 months. So, whilst the lowering of the alert level is, on the face of it good news, we will be monitoring plans and risk assessments drawn up by employers to ensure that members are not put at unnecessary risk.


We wrote to you earlier in the week anticipating that government would make announcements on people who are shielding; this was because they said that new advice would be released week commencing 15 June! As we write this email, Gavin Williamson has just announced during the daily press conference that advice on shielding people would be put out in the coming weeks. We will be in touch with more information on shielding workers next week.

A Vote of Thanks for Health and Care staff

Unison nationally published the following statement on Monday of this week in support of the campaign to extend the free visa extension to more workers on the front line.

A government scheme exempting overseas workers from visa fees for one year should be extended to all care staff and NHS employees, says UNISON today (Monday). The union is backing an amendment brought by MP Yvette Cooper to the Immigration Bill â€‹that would ensure many more staff – such as social care workers, hospital cleaners, healthcare assistants and porters – would not have to pay up to £3,000 to remain working on the Covid-19 frontline. A campaign launched by UNISON urging people to write to their MP to get the Bill changed coincides with the publication today (Monday) of a Home Affairs Select Committee report​, which also calls for a visa scheme extension.

Only around 3,000 NHS workers – whose visas were due to expire before 1 October – currently qualify for the free extension announced in April by the Home Office. UNISON says many more are having to face the costly and stressful process of applying because they are not eligible under the scheme. UNISON is also calling on the government to grant key workers who have been on the Covid-19 frontline indefinite leave to remain.

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s deeply unjust that thousands of care workers and NHS staff don’t qualify for this free scheme.. It’s a costly process reapplying and one that’s stressful at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic…Many migrant workers are in a precarious position with their visas up for renewal during the crisis. They’re on the frontline looking after us – we must look after them too.​”

You can help!! Ask your MP to vote in support of an important cross-party amendment to the Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament, which will include migrant care and lower-paid workers too email your MP


More than Private Tuition Needed
The government have proposed a year-long national tutoring programme aimed at helping pupils in England to catch up on lost learning as a result of school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Under the plans, schools will be funded to hire private tutors to deliver one-to-one and small group lessons to pupils who have fallen behind with their studies after months out of school. We know that many children will have seen their education suffer as a result of the 3 month lockdown. To some degree this was unavoidable as safety had to be paramount. However, children in disadvantaged communities have particularly suffered, as the government has failed to make good on promises of support, such as the laptops which never materialised.

We know that extra support and attention will be required, especially in poorer communities; but we give warning that private tutoring will not be tolerated if the government continues to underfund and cut schools budgets. We need a reversal of the cuts and a real increase of funding to schools. Our members deserve that, our communities deserve that, our children deserve that!

Skills for Schools
Unison is the biggest union for school support staff.  At a national level we are involved in campaigns to secure more funding and better pay; locally we fight against job losses and for better and safer working conditions. But that’s not all we do: Skills for Schools is an online guide to careers, training and development for support staff in schools. Why not take a few moments and check it out, you may find it useful. http://www.skillsforschools.org.uk/

TUC: The Cost of Getting Childcare Wrong

The TUC has recently issued a report highlighting the importance of childcare and how improvement is urgently needed. The impact of Covid-19 on working families’ lives, particularly on the lives of working mums has only intensified the urgency of the question of  how to balance paid work with caring responsibilities.

Insufficient childcare for working parents risks reversing the progress women have made in work and increasing the gender pay gap. Necessary measures, such as the mass and prolonged closure of schools and childcare settings and social isolation restrictions that that prevent friends and family providing informal childcare support, has meant working parents have become full-time carers for their children. Due to the often unequal division of care in household, this has created new, additional demands and burdens on working mums, to the detriment of their working lives.

The report which can be read in full here  also makes a number of key recommendations

Protect women’s incomes during the Covid-19 crisis: A more limited form of the job retention scheme should remain in place beyond October to support parents who are unable to return to work because of childcare responsibilities and enable them to remain on it until schools and childcare settings are fully reopened
Enable mums and dads to balance work and care: Give staff the right to work as flexibly as possible from their first day in the job. Flexible working can take lots of different forms, including the right to predictable hours, working from home, job-sharing, compressed hours and term-time working
Prevent a large-scale collapse of the childcare sector: Give an urgent cash injection to the childcare sector to ensure it remains sustainable and target additional funding at provision supporting children from low income households
Ensure our parental leave is fit for purpose: Give all workers, regardless of their employment status, a day one right to 10 days paid parental leave. This could be used, for example, to cover parents who are unable to work during a 14-day self-isolation mandated by NHS Track and Trace
Employers must be given clear messages from government: Employers will be breaking the law if they unfairly select women for redundancy because of caring responsibilities

Wirral Unison supports these recommendations and will be seeking to embed them where we have recognition deals.

Care Workers campaign- meeting held

This evening we held an online meeting for care workers at one of our care homes. We were alerted to issues at the home several weeks ago and have been working hard to seek resolution both with the council and the care. However, sadly for our members issues still persist. We were delighted that both Margaret Greenwood MP and Mick Whitley MP were represented at the meeting. We are extremely grateful for their support in ensuring that the funding secured through our campaign to provide full sick pay and the Real Living Wage for care workers is implemented.

Thank you to all those care workers who came to the meeting and shared your experiences with us. Your voices are so important and we are committed to continuing to campaign on your behalf to ensure you are safe at work, can feel confident that you will be paid properly if you are off due to Covid and that you receive the Real Living Wage. If you work in the care sector and you are experiencing issues with pay or have any safety concerns, please get in touch with us.

That’s all for today everyone. We’ll be back in touch next week, enjoy the weekend.

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 22, 2020