0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 16.09.20

Dear Member
Hello again everyone. We hope you’re all keeping well and have managed to enjoy some of the late summer sun we’ve had in recent days. As the situation nationally continues to cause concern, we have both some local and national updates for you today and we hope you continue to find these regular updates of use.

Coronavirus – National and Local update

Despite talk of ‘moonshots’ that may deliver millions of tests with results in 20 minutes at some point in the future, the reality right now is that the testing system, which is so badly needed to keep key services operational, is creaking.

In Parliament today, the Prime Minister has changed or rather restricted the criteria for when people should get tested. The position now is that only people who have shown symptoms are eligible for a test, not if you live with someone who is symptomatic or has tested positive or for key workers. This means that in reality eligibility for testing has returned to the position in April. Whilst undoubtedly there has been a significant increase in the number of tests being undertaken there remains a delay in the turnaround time due to lack of lab capacity.

The position for Care Workers working in residential homes is somewhat different, in that they should be receiving access to weekly tests, but there has been an acknowledgement that this is not working uniformly. Similarly, the Government has said that school staff and pupils have access to testing kits that were sent directly to schools. However, as currently only 10 testing kits have been sent to each school with the promise of another 10, it is clear that this is not sufficient. Indeed the associations for Head Teachers and School Governors have written to the Prime Minister imploring him to address the situation; they warn that the return to education is being put at risk by the failures in the system.
Members may be aware that the number of testing stations in Wirral has been increased, which will be welcome news, notwithstanding the restrictions referred to above. Testing stations are currently available in Birkenhead, Bebington, Liscard and Bidston. Home testing kits can also be ordered. Here is the link to the Wirral council website with information on how to make arrangements for a test.

Mental Health and Wellbeing
We have talked in previous emails about the pressures upon people at the moment and the impact that can have upon mental well-being.  With the increase in infection rates, and the possibility of a local lockdown looming, we know the anxiety levels for some people will be rising. We have reflected how homeworking can increase the strain upon workers; but we know that our members out in the community or in workplaces can also feel the impact upon mental health.
We will all deal with this crisis, and the pressures it brings, differently; if you are struggling at times you are not alone. Many of us may feel low, stressed, worried about family members, lonely or bored, those feelings are common. The government has released some helpful advice and guidance to help you look after your mental wellbeing; you can read it here
Do you need urgent help? If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse or deteriorates, this can be called a ‘mental health crisis’. In this situation, it is important to get help quickly.

Please call 0800 145 6485 this is staffed by dedicated local staff will support you to access the help you need. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to people of all ages – including children and young people.

Wirral Evolutions

We reported last month that we had asked the Council to commit to providing the funding to ensure that all Wirral Evolutions staff received the NJC pay rise. We were pleased that the Council agreed to our proposal and committed in August to providing the relevant funding. However, we must now report to our members that the Council leadership have now back tracked on this commitment; instead they have said they will consider, in due course, whether they can afford to fund the pay rise this year.

Given that Wirral council is the sole shareholder of Wirral Evolutions, we consider this decision to be unconscionable. We have written to the leader of the council, Councillor Pat Hackett expressing our grave disappointment at his decision and have asked him to reinstate the commitment he made just over a month ago; we have not as yet received a response. We know our members in Wirral Evolutions will understandably feel let down by the leadership of our labour council, however Unison gives our commitment that we will continue to press for this pay award to be honoured. We will be in touch with our members further in the next week to update on this position.

Magenta Living-Pay ballot

We are currently consulting our members in Magenta over the pay offer. All of our members should have received a ballot via email or through the post. The ballot closes this coming Monday, 21 September so if you have not received a ballot paper, please get in touch and we will re-issue one to you.

Pensions ruling a disaster for women born in 1950s

Yesterday the court of appeal ruled that increasing the age at which women born in the 1950s are entitled to receive their state pension is lawful. For women in this generation this will be incredibly disappointing news. The Government raising their state pension age with minimal notice has had a calamitous effect on retirement plans for these women. In particular for those on lower incomes who have been left at a substantial financial disadvantage. Whilst an appeal to the Supreme Court is considered by the claimants, Unison calls upon MPs to act now and to repeal this discriminatory change to the pension age.

We know that a number of Wirral Unison retired members have been involved in this campaign and we will continue to give them our full support until this decision is reversed.

That’s all for today everyone. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns or require support. As always, please feel free to pass our updates on to colleagues and encourage them to join Unison if they haven’t already. Here’s the link to join up! JOIN UNISON

Enjoy your evening and we’ll be in touch soon with further updates.    

In solidarity!

Your Wirral Unison Team

Branch Office: 0151 666 3040

Central email: unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Published on: September 17, 2020