07899715085 or 07899713498 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 24.06.20

Dear Member

We hope you are keeping well.

We learnt today that Paul Wiggins, our Retired Members Secretary, sadly passed away at the weekend. Paul was active in Unison and NALGO for many many years; we will write a fuller remembrance in the coming days. We pass on our condolences to his wife Lucy.

For a National Care Service

The pandemic has exposed the fault lines in the social care system, which requires substantial reform if its many structural, financial and operational weaknesses are to be tackled.  A new UNISON report Care After Covid: A Vision for Social Care   sets out how the fragmented, crisis-riven sector could be transformed into a national care system.

The report identifies how a national care system could manage the day-to-day challenges of caring for vulnerable people and be better prepared for a future health emergency of the same severity as the current pandemic. Improved regulation and government oversight, better staff pay, stringent UK-wide professional standards, robust workers’ rights, and strategic long-term investment could help create a resilient care system that resembles the NHS more. We know that significant emergency funding is crucial to protect the elderly and disabled from Covid-19 and any future crises. But even prior to the pandemic, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee called for an immediate investment of £8 billion in the sector. Now far more will be needed before the end of the current Parliament if a care system is to be created that’s fit for purpose. The extra cash should be used to invest in the workforce and fund local councils. This is so they have the resources and expertise to step in and take over care homes and care services as and when required and run care services themselves.

Social care must become an important economic sector providing high-quality, well-paid jobs and no longer seen as a drain on the public purse. It has the potential to be part of the solution for local economies that have lost jobs because of the virus. Care staff must be paid at least the real living wage – currently £9.30 an hour  as a minimum (£10 hour would be better) – and there must be a new standard employment contract that includes sick pay, hours to be worked and payment for all the time they’re on duty.  Currently, many care workers are on zero-hours contracts, with little job security and without paid holidays or sick pay. Staff working out in the community and moving between care appointments often aren’t paid for their travel time, while some providing overnight care are not paid for every hour of those shifts, despite being on call.

The pandemic has exposed the poverty pay of care staff who earn so little some have had to choose between feeding their families or risking their health, and that of those they care for. Many couldn’t afford to take time off to self-isolate. Workers have been forced to make ends meet on statutory sick pay of just £95.85 a week and food banks, and that is not good enough.

Wirral Unison has pressed for better pay and conditions; but despite extra funding being available too many providers are resisting that. We are continuing to apply pressure and the Council Leader has now agreed to write to all Providers to press them to implement the Real Living Wage. Our campaign will not stop until all Care Workers in Wirral get at least the Real Living Wage.

Working in the Heat – Indoors

Many of you may know that there is a legal minimum temperature of 16C (13C outside) that you should work within. But as the sun shines, you may be wondering if there is a maximum. The answer is sadly there isn’t; the guidance merely states that temperature should be reasonable. The general consensus, including the World Health Organisation, is that temperatures for offices, schools etc should be between 18C and 24C. Therefore Unison believes that that if the temperature approaches 24 the employer should take action to either reduce the temperature or relocate to a more comfortable location. If the temperature does rise above 24 and stays above that for a significant period (eg 1 hour) then the employer should consider sending staff home.

We know that there are many offices now with air conditioning; this will regulate temperature to keep it with the comfort zone. We know that there has been some stories on social media regarding air conditioning and Covid, but the Health and Safety Executive have confirmed the risk extremely low for the vast majority of systems.

If the temperature in your work place is above 24C; of if the Air Conditioning is not working – or with any other concerns about working in the heat please get in touch. We will take up this issue with employers

There are of course different considerations if you are working outside; we will cover that in the coming days.

That’s all for today everyone! We will have more tomorrow, please pass our updates on to colleagues and urge them to join Unison if they haven’t done already. Here’s the link to join up! JOIN UNISON

Take care of yourselves and each other.

In solidarity!

Lois and Dave

Dave: davidnjones@wirral.gov.uk  07880199539
Lois: loisfounds1@wirral.gov.uk   07384512521
Branch Office:0151 666 3040

Published on: June 25, 2020