Hello again and Happy Monday! We hope you had a lovely weekend and feel well rested if you had some time away from work, if you were working at the weekend, we hope you get the chance of a rest soon. We start with an apology, we had written to all of our members on Friday evening but unfortunately due to a fault with the Unison mailing system, many of our members did not receive that email until this morning- we’re sorry for the delay but hope that you found the information of use nonetheless.
The Government have today issued further details regarding the continued increases in Coronavirus infection rates. Across the country, infection rates are continuing to rise, including here in Wirral where the latest infection rates are 106 per 100,000 people. We understand that the Joint Biosecurity Centre have recommended that the Covid-19 alert level should be increased to level 4 (the highest being 5) meaning transmission is high or rising exponentially.
We have commented before on the shortcomings of the test and trace system and although the numbers of tests are increasing, it is clear that it is still not sufficient to meet the need. The Health Secretary has today announced that he would be prioritising access to testing because of the restricted supply. Tests will be allocated on the following priority:
- to support acute clinical care
- to support and protect people in care homes
- NHS staff
- targeted testing for outbreak management and surveillance studies
- teaching staff with symptoms
- the general public when they have symptoms, prioritising those in areas of high incidence of Coronavirus.
The Health Secretary also published this document about the new rules, but has not provided further details of how the prioritisation system would operate in practice. We know that one area of concern previously was the prevalence of cases taken into care homes by people who had not been tested, but the Government have today confirmed that no admission to care homes will take place without a test.
In more positive news, the Government have today announced a U-turn in announcing a childcare exemption from local lockdown restrictions. The Health Secretary announced “a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, where that is necessary for caring purposes. This covers both formal and informal arrangements, it does not allow for play dates or parties, but it does mean that a consistent childcare relationship that is vital for somebody to get to work is allowed.” We are sure that this will be welcome news to many of our members who are concerned about childcare arrangements, in particular in relation to care provided by extended family members. Hopefully today’s announcement will relieve some of the pressures upon families.
Test and Trace support payment
At the weekend the Government announced that they would be imposing fines of up to £10,000 upon people not complying with self-isolation guidance. However, in a move that perhaps indicates that finally they are recognising the financial pressures that some people are under, there would be a support payment available to the low paid who needed to self-isolate. This payment has been set at £500 and is a welcome increase on the paltry £95.85 paid by statutory sick pay. It is not clear exactly how this system will operate, however it has been indicated that the £500 will be on top of any statutory sick pay entitlement.
We understand that the payment will only apply to people who have tested positive or been told to self-isolate by NHS test and trace. It therefore appears it will not apply if you are merely symptomatic. The scheme is to be administered by Local Authorities and we understand there may also be a discretionary fund which Councils can use to help those who fall between the gaps. However, details at this time are scant, we have asked Wirral Council for further information and will share this when we have it, but they too may still be awaiting further details from the Government. We do know that the scheme needs to be up and running by 12 October although payments can be backdated to 28 September. This scheme, while not perfect, clearly appears to be, from the limited information available, a step forward in supporting those in lower paid employment.
Magenta pay ballot
Unison’s ballot of members on the 2020/21 pay offer from Magenta Living closed this morning. We can confirm that the result was a 99% vote in favour of accepting the 2.5% pay offer, this was on a turnout of 72%. We thank all of our member who participated in that ballot. The pay negotiations were conducted jointly between Unison and Unite and we are awaiting confirmation of the outcome of Unites ballot before we communicate further with the employer, we will of course keep you updated.
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.
Your Wirral Unison Team
Branch Office: 0151 666 3040
Central email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on: September 22, 2020