07899715085 or 07899713498 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 10.02.21

Dear Member

Hi Everyone! We hope you are all keeping safe and well (and warm!) Todays email gives you two opportunities to have your voice heard as a Unison member, so please do take the time to register for our AGM and compete the survey- It’s your Union so have your say!

Wirral UNISON AGM- No Going Back to Normal!

The AGM will be discussing the challenges we face during the pandemic, but also as we seek to move beyond the current global health crisis. What should our priorities be?

The meeting will be held in two parts (you only need to attend one) and will be held on line.

The meeting will be held on Zoom please click on the relevant link to register and you will be sent the link for the meeting

Tuesday 23 February 1pm until 2pm https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcsduygrD8uE9TC_n-UJVa10dTJsyAPGH6q
Wednesday 3 March 5:30pm until 6:30pm https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0uc-qorTspE9LL2CZYSI8hVjjQO9jSyHum

When you’ve registered you will receive a link to the meeting immediately; at this point you will have the option to add the invite to your calendar

The Guest Speaker will be Paula Carlyle from Unison NEC

As the meeting will be online there will be no hot buffet, sadly. However if the AGM is quorate (just 80 members) there will be a cash raffle for all who attend:
£100 x 1, £50 X 2, £20 x10

Homeworking Survey

Wirral Unison continues to press and make representation to the Council for the payment of a Home Working Allowance; we have however now reached an agreement in principle to implement the payment of a Homeworking Allowance. The details are still to be worked out, and negotiations have yet to begin on the specifics; however this is a significant victory for Wirral Unison. As you know we have been pressing for this for some time, and faced numerous obstacles.

We know that for some working from home has brought savings due to reduced travel costs. However for many the costs of increased utility bills has more than outweighed any savings that may have been made through reduced travel. That is particularly so for those who are home schooling, or suffer with disabilities exacerbated by the cold; and we do not want see any of our members working wrapped in duvets and blankets. We will consult further on the details on the policy; whilst it may not achieve everything we have aimed for, it does appear to be a significant step forward to support members.

We recognise that that the challenges of homeworking are not restricted to financial pressures, but cover many different aspects. What ‘work’ will look like after the pandemic passes remains to be seen, but there are certainly suggestions that there will be a lot more homeworking. We want to ensure that in the medium and longer term homeworking policies are in place that protect the interests of our members not just the interests of the employer. We are keen that the element of choice must be a crucial element of homeworking.

To help us in negotiations we would be grateful if you have been working from home latterly (whichever employer) if you can take a few moments to answer our brief survey:

https://survey.alchemer.eu/s3/90313065/Homeworking


The Impact of Covid-19 on Working Mums

In June 2020 research conducted by the charity ‘Pregnant then Screwed’ found that 57% of working mothers said that child care during the pandemic had damaged their career prospects. Two weeks ago the same organisation told the high court how the self-employment income support scheme had been disproportionately prejudicial against new mothers arguing that tens of thousands of women have received lower payments than those whose average income was unaffected by maternity leave because of the way the grants are calculated. They claim that an estimated 69,200 women had been indirectly discriminated against by the scheme.

In a report released today the Women and Equality’s committee revealed more startling evidence about the true impacts of covid-19 on working mums and the extent to which government policy has exacerbated gender inequality in the workplace.

As a union whose membership is made up of 80% women we are committed to championing and advancing women’s rights. Members may recall that we successfully lobbied the council to allow parents returning from parental leave up to an additional ten days leave and we can confirm that Wirral Unison is seeking agreement for this to be extended in recognition of the ongoing challenges brought about by the current lockdown restrictions. We will also focus in the coming period on ensuring that the experiences of all of our women members across a range of workplaces are at the heart of our campaigns and negotiations.

Schools Update

The Education select committee chair, Robert Halfon has today set out his vision for post covid education citing a longer school day and an extension to term time as possible ways to catch children up once schools return  to all children. Halfon has also suggested that ‘civil society’ could fill the gap by providing sports and extra curricular activities. Whilst we are in doubt that children will require additional support once schools fully re-open, we do not believe that this is best achieved through a longer school day or indeed a longer term.

At Wirral Unison we are clear that the life chances of no child should be hindered by this pandemic and that government must do all that it can to protect our children’s futures and ensure that they are all able to reach their full potential. Of course, this will cost money. The government have announced a £300 million ‘catch up’ fund and whilst this is welcome, it is unlikely to be enough to truly protect our children and to make up for the years of cuts to school budgets. As a local branch representing schools support staff, as well as at national and regional level, Unison are campaigning and lobbying for proper funding for schools to enable our members to support children in schools.

The Government has announced that they are hoping for schools to re-open on 8 March. UNISON believes that school reopening should only happen when the science says it is safe, when school risk assessments have been updated and when appropriate safety measures have been introduced. We must ensure that schools do not become ‘vectors of transmission’ again. So it is vital that the Department for Education (DfE) allows for a staggered approach so that the impact of reopening on local transmission rates can be monitored to make sure that community transmission rates continue to fall. A phased return and/or flexible rota systems would also help make schools safer for staff and pupils.

Unison is pressing for actions and clear guidance in the following key areas

  • Social Distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Face coverings
  • Testing
  • Vaccines
  • Ventilation
  • Vulnerable staff
  • Self Isolation Pay
  • School Transport

Full details on our representation have been provided to school stewards and we will of course keep you updated on the progress of our discussions with DfE.


That’s all for today everyone, we do hope you continue to find our email updates of use.
 
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 soon with further updates.

In solidarity!

Your Wirral Unison Team
Central email: unison1@wirral.gov.uk
Telephone: 07899713498 or 07899715085
 

 

Published on: February 10, 2021