0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 21.09.20

Dear Member

Hello again everyone. We hope you’re all keeping safe and well. You’ll likely be aware by now that there have been significant developments for us locally and that’s where we start today’s update.

Coronavirus- Local update

The Government have announced this morning that Wirral, along with the rest of Merseyside and much of the North of England is now subject to lockdown restrictions. We know that this will be an anxious time for many members who will be worried about the increasing rates of infection. We also recognise that the restrictions, notwithstanding any views on their necessity, will bring a degree of inconvenience for a number of our members, for example in arranging childcare because current arrangements are no longer available.

It is clear that a significant number of school children are having to isolate, either because they or someone else they are in close contact with in school has shown symptoms. This period of isolation is often proving to be longer than necessary due to the well-publicised problems with testing. Wirral Unison, along with many other unions highlighted that it was critical to have a robust testing system in place for when schools returned in September. The situation that we now find ourselves in was, we believe predictable and we are disappointed that many of our members and their families are now feeling the impact of an inadequate testing system. We hope that employers will take a reasonable approach and apply normal pay/sick pay provisions where people cannot attend work due to their children self-isolating.

Whilst we’re on the subject of schools, members may remember that we were calling for a more widespread use of face coverings within the school environment to minimise the risk of transmission. We understand that as from Monday 21 September face coverings should now be worn by parents/ carers when picking up and dropping off children at school and in secondary schools that pupils and staff should now wear a face covering when moving around communal areas (subject to the usual exemptions). We are pleased that this step has now been taken, albeit later than we would have wished, and will hopefully help to contain further increases in the risk of transmission.
Below is the information which has been released in relation to local restrictions which apply from Tuesday:

  • Residents across Merseyside are not allowed to socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble, in their homes or private gardens
  • Pubs must shut between 22:00 and 05:00 and offer table service only
  • Residents are asked only to use public transport for "essential purposes"
  • Residents are asked to avoid attending amateur or semi-professional sports events as spectators.

We expect  that further details will be known in the coming days and we will of course keep members updated. It is not yet known what specific provision will be applicable to members who were previously shielding or clinically vulnerable, however please get in touch with us if you have any concerns.

Wirral Evolutions- Pay Rise Success!

We reported to members earlier in the week, our dismay that Wirral Council had back tracked on a previous commitment to provide the necessary funding to ensure that Wirral Evolutions staff received the same pay rise as Council staff. As we told members at the time, this was not a position that we could accept and we would continue to apply pressure and consult our members on further action to achieve the pay rise. We are delighted that today, following representations from Wirral Unison the leader of Wirral Council has contacted us to confirm that they will now be increasing the funding to allow the national pay award to be applied.

To our members in Wirral Evolutions we know that this pay rise is deserved and will be well received. We want to make clear that it has been the efforts of Wirral Unison that achieved this outcome. If you know a member of staff working in Wirral Evolutions (or anywhere) who is not a member of a union, why not tell them of the success Unison has had and encourage them to join us. We deliver for our members!

UNISON Court Victory for London Care Workers

Unison has recently won another significant legal victory with a group of homecare workers in London over illegal pay. This case highlighted that the government must now act to end the practice of employers denying care staff wages for time spent travelling between visits to the sick and elderly.  The claimants – the majority of whom are women – will now receive an average settlement of around £10,000 each after the ruling. The tribunal found that contractors commissioned by Haringey Council in North London breached wage rules by paying some care staff less than half the minimum wage.

The dispute against the three care firms involved was chiefly over their failure to pay workers a legal wage. Time spent travelling between people’s houses was unpaid, despite the staff having to get from one home to the next to complete their work. This meant that the workers could earn well under half the legal minimum hourly rate, despite working for as many as 14 hours a day. The judgment said that travelling and waiting time of up to 60 minutes between appointments should be treated as working time. The decision involving these ten workers may have implications for thousands more care staff who look after vulnerable people by visiting them in their own homes and provides other homecare staff a clear method of calculating how much they are owed.

This was not a quick success and took over four years to achieve the right outcome. That is why we prefer to tackle matters through collective means rather than rely on the courts, which can be inconsistent in their results, and take many years to deliver justice. Wirral UNISON will  be examining this result in detail and considering how it applies to Wirral care workers; we will share further details of how we will pursue this in the coming weeks.

Retired Members National Social Care Webinar

UNISON retired members are to hold a virtual event this autumn, after their annual conference was cancelled due to COVID-19. The union’s national retired members’ committee is organising the remote event in place of the usual conference – online and live – on Wednesday 14 October, from 11am to 12.30pm.

‘Care after COVID’, will be a webinar for retired members, looking at the impact of the pandemic on the care sector, why we need a new system for social care and the actions that need to be taken for such a service. Wirral UNISON has taken an active approach to organising and improving conditions in social care and we are sure many of our retired members will be interested in this online seminar.
The event will be a panel debate with the following speakers:
Christina McAnea – UNISON assistant general secretary with responsibility for bargaining, negotiating and equalities;
Gavin Edwards – senior national officer for business, community and environment;
Guy Collis – policy officer.
It will be chaired by Rosie Macgregor, the chair of the national committee.

The event is aimed at all UNISON retired members and if you would like to attend, you can register by clicking the link here.

If you would like to submit a question in advance for the panel, you can do so on the same link when you register to attend. It is also planned that members will be able to ask questions on the day.
So get active! Register to attend as soon as possible.

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 weekend 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 21, 2020