0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 04.08.20

Good Evening!

We hope you are all well as we enter the start of another working week.

Face Coverings.
Members may remember that on Friday we reported that as Libraries re-opened we had been pressing with the Council that the public using the libraries should be required to wear face coverings. Late on Friday evening the Government released amended guidance that stated that the public in libraries should wear face coverings. The Council have confirmed to Unison today that they will be applying this guidance. We will therefore of course be working with management to ensure that this is implemented in a manner that minimises any potential conflict.
The full amended guidance on face coverings can be found here

Redundancy and Furlough
Sadly we know that too many people will face redundancy when the period of furlough ends, particularly worrying for those without enhanced redundancy schemes. Last week the government brought in a new law to ensure furloughed workers that are made redundant have their redundancy pay calculated according to their normal wage and not that received during the Covid-19 crisis. As Statutory Redundancy Pay is only provided to employees with more than two years’ continuous service, this law will only protect those who fall into that category and not workers on insecure contracts or those who have been working for the same employer for less than two years.
With estimates that unemployment could reach six million as swathes of workers are laid off, and signs that pregnant women are already being disproportionately targeted, the limited scope new law will disappoint many of those who may find themselves at risk of redundancy.
We would call on the following protections to be introduced for workers at risk of redundancy:

  • Give everyone the same rights from day one: Abolish the three-tiered employment status system that categorises those in insecure work as a ‘worker’ rather than an ’employee’, thereby removing their right to statutory redundancy pay. Instead, all should be classified as a ‘worker’ with a right to redundancy pay and this should begin for their first day on the job or after a reasonable probation period.
  • Increase the notice period workers are entitled to when being laid off. Currently a worker that has been with their employer for up to two years is only entitled to one week’s notice. Further, restore the 90-day period workers are afforded for consultation with employers regarding the details of mass redundancies, which has recently been cut to 45 days.
  • Increase statutory notice pay. Those who have been with their employer for up to two years are entitled to nothing. Even those that have worked for their employer for over two years are eligible for as little as half a week’s pay for each full year they worked if they are aged under 22, or one week’s pay for each full year they worked between the ages of 22 and 41

Risk Assessments
For many of our members who have been shielding, this week will be an anxious time as the government has declared they can return to the workplace from the beginning of August. Of course there are proviso’s to that and Unison will be working hard to ensure are applied. Significantly the workplace must be safe for the clinically extremely vulnerable (or shielding) to return to; whilst the government is quiet on those who are clinically vulnerable, we believe the same standard should be applied. For the workplace to be considered safe if you are at increased risk, there must be an individual risk assessment conducted, which you must be consulted on. This is a key measure and we urge all our members at higher risk to seek advice from Unison.

School Uniform Grant
In response to the growing difficulties many members on low incomes face, a programme has been put in place by Unison that will assist our most vulnerable members with the cost of purchasing school uniforms. The grants are one-off grants of £50 per school age child, up to a total of £150.
To be eligible, you must meet the following:

  • You are a member and have paid 4 weeks subscriptions before 3 August (the launch date of this programme);
  • You are financially responsible for the child/children and receiving Child Benefit for them;
  • You have total combined (yourself and your partner if applicable) savings/rolling bank balance(s) of less than £1,000, and;
  • Either you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
  • Or you have an annual net salary of less than £18,000 (combined salary with partner must be less than £18,000 p.a. if applicable).

To apply for the grant click this link.  You will need your membership number (which is on this email)

Housing Survey
The UK's housing crisis has been made even worse by COVID-19. Many UNISON members and their families have had to defer rent or mortgages, and are struggling to manage household bills. UNISON is conducting a survey to find out more about housing issues members are facing. Members who respond will be entered into a prize draw for £100 of shopping vouchers.
To take part in the survey follow the link here

The Pandemic of course dominates our thoughts, but there are other issues that we need to pay attention to. The Climate Emergency is happening now and unless we work together to stop it, our planet will change in drastic ways and our children and grandchildren face a deeply uncertain future. The UN Committee on Climate Change has said the next decade is critical.

As a union, we have a vital role to play in campaigning for greener politics, working with employers to make workplaces more sustainable, and informing members of global warming issues. Our members work in a wide range of jobs that have direct environmental roles in parks, energy and water companies, environment agencies, meat hygiene service, environmental health, school food, buses and transport planning, cleansing, waste recycling and planning. UNISON members in all their different roles across the health service, local government, police, fire & rescue, education, housing and the voluntary sector see the effects of environmental change, be it pollution, extreme weather, floods or cold homes.

On the international stage, our union works with other unions from around the world to campaign for public investment to tackle climate change. If you wish to receive Unison’s national Green Network, newsletter follow thi
s Unison Greens

We are also looking to set up a Branch Green Network to deal with Wirral environmental issues. If you are interested in being involved please email davidnjones@wirral.gov.uk

That’s all for today and we will be back in touch soon

In solidarity!

Lois and Dave

Branch Office: 0151 666 3040

Central email: unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Published on: August 4, 2020