07899715085 or 07899713498 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 06.11.20

Dear Member

Well it’s Friday! We hope you manage to find a bit time to rest, laugh, and recover over the next couple of days, even if you are one of the many who will be working over the weekend.

We are of course just in to the new national lockdown, and the R rate is again being talked about. The details of the latest figures can be found here www.gov.uk/R rate but the rate is now 1.1 -1.3. We note that after being one of the worst affected areas, the North West is now the lowest. We do not intend to be overly parochial, but it is perhaps an encouraging sign.

Unison’s Covid Response Fund

It’s been a tough year for people right across the world, as COVID-19 has swept around the globe – and with no sign of it disappearing any time soon. UNISON members have been among those facing the daily battle with the pandemic – not just in their work keeping our vital services going, but also on a personal and domestic front. There for You is UNISON’s unique welfare charity and, in the summer, it introduced a new fund to help members who were struggling financially as a direct consequence of the new coronavirus. The first round of the COVID-19 response fund ran from May to July and distributed over £250,000 in grants to individual members in financial difficulty due to the pandemic.

There For You has now announced it will re-open its COVID-19 response fund on 16 November. Grants of up to £500 will be made to help members in financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus. Grants can support with day-to-day living costs: for example, if you or your partner are furloughed or shielding and relying on statutory sick pay. They can help you through loss of employment due to redundancy or loss of working hours or a second job, or towards housing costs like rent, mortgage or council tax arrears that have accrued since March.

Make a date in your diary to apply from 16 November, as demand for this limited fund may be high - click here to apply

Woodchurch Road School -Public Meeting: Stop the Cuts

During this pandemic and during this lockdown we have heard much talk of balancing health needs and education; it is a difficult call. But politicians of all side recognise the value of education(or at least say they do).

Yet, right now, in Birkenhead, Woodchurch Rd Primary School are looking to slash Support Staff hours by up to 20%, a move that Wirral Council is supporting.

That's means our low paid members face losing up to £3885 in pay, and of course the impact on the support and education the children receive will be immense. We are concerned about the implications, not just this year, but in years to come – for our members, for the children who attend the school, and for the community. But Wirral Unison is not sitting on our hands. WE ARE BALLOTING MEMBERS FOR STRIKE ACTION, we expect an overwhelming yes vote. But we urge the Council to work with Unison to resolve this dire situation.

Come to our meeting on Tuesday (on Facebook), support our campaign to SAVE WOODCHURCH ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL - STOP THE CUTS!

Here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/events/980574229091740/

Speakers include:
David Jones Wirral Unison Branch Secretary
Amina, a Woodchurch Road parent
Steve Bennett Unison Schools Officer
Mick Whitley MP, Birkenhead (video due to demands of Parliament)

Self Isolation and Childcare

Whilst the number of school pupils in Wirral self-isolating has fallen over the past two weeks, the numbers are still significant. And of course it is not unusual for children from the same household to be asked to self-isolate at different times, or the same child to self isolate a number of times. This can be a challenge for those having to juggle childcare and homeworking for a couple of weeks, however for many parents home working is not an option. So what then? For many it may mean unpaid leave (there is no legal entitlement to pay) and significant financial hardship and that may lead some to consider breaking the Covid rules out of desperation. That lack of financial support is morally indefensible, and does not help in lowering transmission.

We have supported many members in this situation, that is why we support the petition launched by the campaign groups, ‘Pregnant the Screwed’ and ‘Gingerbread’ calling for the Government to extend the Track and Trace isolation grant of £500 to parents who are unable to work when their child is sent home from school due to Coronavirus.
Please sign the petition because many families desperately need the support of the Government so that they can do the right thing, and to prevent them from falling into unmanageable debt.

Teaching assistants covering twice as many lessons in the pandemic

UNISON has discovered that twice as many teaching assistants (TAs) are standing in for teachers and giving lessons than before the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey has seen 4,460 teaching assistants respond, with 25% saying they had been asked to lead classes and 27% saying they’d been asked to provide cover supervision. A similar  survey in 2018 revealed that 12% of teaching assistants had been asked to undertake tasks from a higher grade, including standing in for teachers.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said that teaching assistants were being asked to cover for teachers who were falling ill or having to self-isolate due to lack of testing in the pandemic, with the Times Educational Supplement reporting that schools were less likely to employ supply teachers during the pandemic. Unison lead for education, Jon Richards has written to the Schools Minister and has said “UNISON has been raising concerns with the government about the exploitation of teaching assistants for years. Austerity saw higher-grade jobs cut and increasing numbers of TAs asked to cover the work of their missing colleagues – often without the training or support they need.”

Wirral Unison will be discussing this issue at the next schools stewards meeting and considering what action we can take.

Training: Developing Confidence in Presentations

12 - 1pm, 19th November 2020. Online.
This 1 hour course is designed to develop people's confidence in preparing for, creating and delivering presentations. The course will help you:

  • Know how to prepare effectively for a presentation
  • Explore how to use PowerPoint to support our presentations
  • Share our experiences of what works for us when we deliver presentations
  • Know how to prepare to deliver a presentation online.

This event is a webinar, run online. Please RSVP to the event and we will email you a link to our course paperwork. Once we have received this back from you, we will send you out a link that will allow you to access the webinar. To make this webinar effective we have capped the number of places on the webinar. Please do not RSVP to the event unless you are committed to attending.

That’s all for this week. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns or require support.

As always, please do 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

We’ll be back in touch with further updates next week. Enjoy your weekend.

In solidarity!

Your Wirral Unison Team
Central email: unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Published on: November 9, 2020