COVID-19 Message ref front facing services

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Some services have been operating, albeit very differently, through this crisis. We are increasingly having managers trying to talk to us about returning to a more open model in many service areas.

UNISON is clear that COVID has not gone away and that numbers of cases have increased recently in Coventry. With that in mind, we need to challenge rationales and ensure that members are kept safe at work.

We will be having these conversations in the coming days and weeks and if you are concerned about your work area then please contact us.

COVID-19 Message for @coventrycc City Council employees

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For Council employees, the corporate message received is that although buildings may be opening and steps being taken to open more, this does not negate the overarching message which is “if you can work from home, you should continue to do so”.

Whilst individual services and managers may be considering how a return to the workplace can be made safe, the question to be asked is “why”? What circumstances dictate that the increased risk is necessary? Your managers should have contacted you and UNISON well in advance to discuss any changes to the current working practices.

Services for vulnerable people are reopening with stringent measures in place to ensure safety: these include a reduction in capacity, use of PPE where necessary, temperature checking, and ensuring all are vigilant for symptoms.

All steps taken by employer to ensure COVID safety, should be regularly reviewed and immediately if any concerns are raised or issues arise.

COVID-19 – Message to all #Coventry #UNISON members

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Over the past few weeks, members have been in touch with us regarding their workplaces re-opening or extending services, which may require them to work from an office/workplace setting rather than at home. This type of change is a cause of great anxiety for people, some of whom have been shielding during lockdown.

Government advice is clear that every workplace must become “COVID secure” by undertaking a risk assessment and applying measures to ensure that the risk to staff and service users is minimised.

If you have health, or other concerns regarding a return to work you can request an individual risk assessment and your employer should discuss the matter with you to try to reach a mutually agreeable way forward.

COVID-19 Vulnerable Employees Guidance

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All members…

Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from harm. Steps should be taken to ensure each workplace is COVID secure for all who enter it.  As part of an employer’s duty, they must consider the risk to those who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and put controls in place to reduce that risk.

A risk assessment should take place to consider the risk factors and safe systems of work for the individual. The risk assessment could also explore wider concerns such as traveling to work using public transport or family members who are also at higher risk. Where increased risks are identified, all practical adjustments to mitigate the risks should be considered and put in place to protect keep staff safe.

Public Health England have reported that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected.  Every employer has a duty to assess the risk to staff and make extra provision for those who are deemed vulnerable.

If you have concerns that you are at higher risk of adverse reaction to COVID-19 please alert your manager and ask for an individual risk assessment to be carried out. If you need support to do this, please contact the branch for help and advice.

Coventry City Council and Maintained Schools members:

The Local Authority has drafted a Vulnerable Employee Risk (VERA) to be used to safeguard its employees at higher risk of serious reactions to COVID-19.   The VERA may also be applied by any publicly funded school in Coventry as a tool to safeguard their staff.

The Local Government Association has advised that clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) employees on NJC terms and conditions should only return to workplaces where strict social distancing is applied.

As the government guidance does not require strict social distancing in schools UNISON advises that for CEV employees, or those living with others who are CEV, working at home is the safest option.

Ultimately regardless of who your employer is, or whether they use the Local Authority VERA, they should be addressing the particular concerns of staff. If you do not believe your employer is supporting you in this way please contact us urgently.

Message for #Coventry City UNISON members – Make sure you vote now in the Pay consultation!

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We have been receiving many responses to the consultation on the pay offer – we want to hear the views of all members, so don’t delay in getting yours in as soon as possible. 

Some FAQs – 

Q: What was our claim and what is the offer?

A: Our claim was 10%. This is in the context of our pay dropping in real terms by 20% in the last decade! So this was about starting to claw back some of what we have lost. The 2.75% barely scratches the surface and is not the pay our members deserve and that is why your branch is recommending that the offer is rejected. Whatever your view, make sure you vote to ensure your voice is heard.

Q: All well and good, but is the money there?

A: Public sector workers up and down the country have literally kept people alive during Covid-19 and as we face a huge economic crisis our services are going to become even more vital. Politicians clapped us – why won’t they reward us properly for the work we do? We are the 6th richest country in the world, this is about the work that we do being truly valued, or not.  Councils have had their money cut by central government and that is why UNISON has argued that their needs to be a big injection of funds for our services, and that includes our pay.

Q: Aren’t some public sector workers being offered 3.1%?

A: Yes, that is true! Teachers and some other public sector workers are being offered this. To be clear this is still not enough. But to the government, we aren’t even worth the same as others!

Q: Is this an industrial action ballot? 

A: No, this is over whether you think the offer is acceptable or not. 

Q: How long have I got left to vote?

A: The deadline is fast approaching, you have until 4pm on Friday 7th August.