07899715085 or 07899713498 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 27.11.20

Dear Member

Hello all and Happy Friday! We hope you’ve all had a good working week and are looking forward to a rest over the weekend. If you are working over the weekend as we know many of our members do, we hope you get some rest soon. We’ll start today’s update with addressing the new restrictions coming into force from next week…

COVID alert level 2

As you will be aware, the government announced this week that the Liverpool City Region will be going into tier 2 of the restriction levels. In the areas of work where we represent members, this should mean that services can operate where COVID secure measures are in place. We are aware however, that some staff and buildings within the council may be used for testing and other COVID-19 response activities. As a union, we support this redeployment as continuing to drive down the rates of transmission must be the priority.

The Government advice in relation to those who are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable is sadly somewhat lacking and in all tiers they suggest that if you cannot work from home you should attend your workplace. However, if you have concerns about the safety of the building or individual measures to protect you there are still steps you can take and you should not simply accept the risk. In fact, the government guidance explicitly states “if you have concerns about your health and safety at work, you can raise them with your workplace union.” We of course reiterate this message and would encourage anyone in a vulnerable category who is worried to contact us.

For those who are clinically extremely vulnerable or shielding the government has confirmed that your employer may still furlough you under the job retention scheme. For the full guidance on support for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable please see this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/cev-from-2-dec

Woodchurch Road Primary School- Sign the Petition!

As we have previously advised, our members at Woodchurch Road Primary School are due to take strike action in the face of a proposed 20% cut in their pay. Wirral Unison believes that the resolution to this dispute is in the hands of the council. If you haven’t already, please show your support by signing our petition to the council.

Government Propose Public Sector Pay Freeze

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced earlier this week that he intended to impose a public sector pay freeze. The exceptions to this are front line NHS workers (which we do not disagree with) and of course members of parliament (which we certainly do disagree with!) For those public sector workers who are paid less than £25,000 he has proposed a payment of £250. It is not clear yet whether he intends this to be a pay rise or a one off ‘bonus’; either way it is less than the rate of inflation.

We know that the country has spent significantly during the COVID crisis and incurred debt at a level not seen since the second world war. However we are reminded that it was precisely after the second world war that the Labour government, notwithstanding the levels of debt created the NHS and invested heavily in the welfare state.

Mr Sunak has also sought to divide workers; pitting the public and private sector against one another. In doing so the government are merely trying to divert attention, in a cynical and ideologically driven ploy, away from the real issue which is, that public services and the workers who deliver them are chronically underfunded. And at the same time big business continues to make massive profits off the back of the crisis, often through government contracts. If you have a personal relationship to a tory minister you are 10% more likely to have been awarded a government contract for PPE than if you don’t. When the country is in crisis and our pay is effected we must remember that the public purse is just that- it belongs to the public!

Wirral Unison stands in solidarity with all sections of workers who are struggling for a better standard of living. We therefore oppose completely this proposed pay freeze and equally condemn the Tories for their penny pinching action in reneging on a previously announced 49 pence an hour increase in the minimum wage, instead increasing it by just 19 pence an hour. Many of our members are now facing a triple whammy:

  • Soaring gas and electric costs whilst working at home
  • A 5% increase in their council tax
  • And now a renewal of the public sector pay freeze

Wirral Unison therefore affirms its intention to campaign for better pay and conditions for all our members. After the 2008 financial crash, the government told us we were “all in it together” whilst making ordinary families bail out the bankers, we wont fall for the same gimmick again!

Sick Pay for all

We know that many of our members, in particular care workers, nursery workers and others if they are sick will receive only statutory sick pay (SSP). For those who do qualify the current payment of £95.85 per week is simply not enough to even pay the bills. The TUC has launched a campaign to guarantee decent sick pay for every worker. The spread of this virus has only highlighted how damaging the current level of statutory sick pay is. The TUC are calling on government to:

  • Scrap the minimum earnings threshold for SSP
  • Increase the weekly level of sick pay to at least £320 per week
  • And give employers the resources to afford sick pay for their workers

If you think sick pay should be higher, take action today and sign the TUC’s petition sickpayforall-guarantee-decent-sick-pay-for-every-worker

Christmas Prize Draw

We all know that this has been a tough year (and that’s putting it mildly) Corona virus has sapped our will at times and impinged upon our family and social lives. We know that Christmas this year will be very different for all of us. In an attempt to spread a little Christmas cheer, Wirral Unison has decided to use some of the money we’ve saved this year to fund a prize draw for members. We will be drawing 10 members from our database who will each win a prize of £50. Five of the prizes will be reserved for low paid members. The draw will take place on 11 December.

We would also just like to make members aware that we do have a welfare fund available for any member who is struggling financially and a Welfare Officer who is available to offer advice on welfare related issues. Please get in touch if you require help.

That’s all for today everyone, we will be back in touch next 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

In solidarity!

Your Wirral Unison Team

Central email: unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Published on: November 30, 2020