Council Staff Annual Leave…

Standard

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been numerous discussions and announcements about the use of leave – including where leave has accumulated that would otherwise have been taken in normal times.

We have urged the employer to take a flexible approach on this – of course from the point of view of mental health and wellbeing members should take leave to ensure they get appropriate rest and recuperation. At the same time, it must be recognised that many members are far more restricted in terms of travel and what this leave can be used for.

There is an agreement that some leave can be carried over, but from what members have told us this may be being applied differently across the council.

We have put together a short survey to allow us to get a picture of the situation, and to where necessary to take up the situation. This has been emailed to all Council staff members of our branch. Contact us direct if you have not received this email. We would be grateful if you would take the time to complete it.

Lateral Flow Tests and Vaccinations…

Standard

The number of people taking lateral flow tests over the past few weeks has started to drop significantly. We are clear that whilst lateral flow tests are a secondary part of risk management, they are important for identifying those who may be asymptomatic but still able to pass the virus on. We would urge all front-facing workers to consider getting tested on a weekly basis at least for their peace of mind.

We know that many social care staff and vulnerable staff have now been invited to be vaccinated. We know that people have concerns about the safety and content of the vaccines but we would encourage people to get vaccinated. Coventry City Council have helpfully produced the following guidance:

The government has launched the SHARE checklist to tackle the spread of false information about coronavirus and vaccinations.

Recently there has been a lot of false information about coronavirus and the new vaccines designed to tackle it and it’s not always easy to spot. The SHARE checklist is an easy tool to pass on to people in your community to help them know what to look out for before they like, comment or share information they come across online.

If you are looking for information on vaccination safety, please see the NHS guide on Why vaccination is safe and important.

The independent fact-checker Full Fact is also working to fact check and correct misinformation about vaccines and coronavirus and regularly updates its website to tackle the latest false information.

#Coventry City #UNISON Branch Annual General Meeting – Update

Standard

As we all know, the past year has been completely different to any other year and therefore our AGM will be held via teams rather than our normal in-person meeting.

At the AGM you will hear reports from the senior representatives in the branch and you can ask questions and discuss how you would like the union to work over the coming year.  Whilst sounding very formal we ensure that the reports focus on the work that we do and the challenges we face across the branch.

Due to changes in the way the branch has had to operate, we also need to adjust our rules in order for us to have online meetings and allow electronic participation in the union.  It is of vital importance that as many people attend as possible because we need 150 people to agree to our rule changes.  These will be available with the AGM report on the branch website http://www.coventryunison.co.uk prior to the AGM meeting.  

If we do not get enough people to our AGM, then we will have to call another meeting shortly afterwards to get an agreement on our rules.

There has never been a more important time to be involved; it is not too late to consider being a contact for where you work or a steward.  Why not get involved and add your voice to our branch?

We are delighted to announce, Labour MP for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana will be speaking at the meeting.

The AGM will take place on Friday 12th March 2020 starting at 5.30 pm. A web link to the meeting has been sent by email to all Members. Please contact the Branch if you have not received this.

Hopefully, we can see as many of our members as possible attend the AGM this year.

#UNISON Winter Fuel Grant Update

Standard

UNISON Welfare…

The Winter Fuel Grant has been temporarily paused.  As expected, demand for this was high.  We expect an update next Monday.

The Covid Response Fund offers grants of up to £500 for eligible members who have suffered loss of income due to Covid.  Apply here: www.unison.org.uk/covid-19-response-fund-2/

You can still get help for financial hardship due to unexpected circumstances. In an emergency we can usually sort something in 24 hours. Help with shopping bills is possible. We can refer you to local food bank network or apply for shopping vouchers. Contact branch for details of the above.

We can assist with debt. Our debtline is 0800 389 3302.  Service details are here: www.payplan.com/unison/

UNISON Benefits Calculator: https://unison.entitledto.co.uk/home/start

We don’t just deal with the financial side of things.  Our charity There For You provides a confidential service for members over the phone if you are experiencing personal difficulties, such as long-term illness, recovering from surgery, domestic violence or abuse.  

Contact the branch or call: 020 7121 5620

Domestic Abuse – A message & info from #Coventry City #UNISON

Standard

Domestic Abuse… Women’s Aid defines domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading, and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation, and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Financial or economic abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Online or digital abuse

Members who are suffering from domestic abuse may well be finding that lockdown is increasing their isolation and their abuse.  UNISON has produced a leaflet which we have attached that talks about domestic abuse and the support you can expect.

Domestic_Abuse_Leaflet.pdf

For services, here is a list:

Coventry Haven
Coventry Haven help women and children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse by providing safe housing and a range of support services. You can find out more by calling 02476444077 or via
www.coventryhaven.co.uk

Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre
The Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre provides support, information and advocacy to female victims and supervisors of sexual violence. You can find out more by calling 02476 277 777 or via www.crasac.org.uk

Galop
Galop is the national lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans charity intended to help raise awareness and combat same-sex domestic violence and abuse. You can find out more by calling 0800 999 5428 or via www.galop.org.uk/domesticabuse

Men’s Aid
Men’s Aid help provide practical advice and support to men who have been abused. You can find out more calling 0333 567 0556 or via www.mensaid.co.uk/

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge. It gives support, help and information for women experiencing domestic violence. You can find out more by calling 0808 2000 247 or via www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

Valley House
Valley House offer support for people who are over 16 years of age and suffer from domestic abuse. You can find out more by calling 0800 328 9084 or via www.valleyhouse.org.uk/domestic-abuse-coventry/

Mental Health Matters…#mentalhealthmatters

Standard

The branch is concerned that members may be struggling with their mental health through this lockdown and who may have been struggling with other concerns for some time. 

We have seen increasing rates of sickness absence and members struggling with their anxieties.  We don’t want anyone to struggle alone and we are here to help where we can; we aren’t trained counsellors however and below are several ways you can access professional support.  

UNISON’s national charity There For You can be contacted to seek support on – 02071215620

As we said last week many employers may also have their own support services that staff can access to get support.

Here is a list of organisations in Coventry that may be able to help you or a family member:

Mental Health Support Organisations

Samaritans Call 116 123 free 24/7

Safe Havens Safe Havens in Coventry and Warwickshire provide out-of-hours mental health support for people who are feeling distressed and overwhelmed.  

PAPYRUS Free service for young people. Call 0800 068 4141 9am-10pm Mon-Fri /2pm-10pm weekends or visit www.papyrus-uk.org

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) Call 0300 111 5065 9am-9pm Monday to Friday or visit www.uksobs.org

MIND Coventry and WarwickshireHelp and support for mental health problems. Call 024 7655 2847 or visit www.cwmind.org.uk

Change Grow Live Coventry Free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults, families and affected others. Call 02476 010241 9am-5pm Mon/ 9am – 8pm Tue/ 9am – 5pm Wed-Fri or email coventry.info@cgl.org.uk

Compass: Substance misuse service for children and young people in Warwickshire Call 01788 578 227 or email: compass.warksypsduty@nhs.net.  Office hours are Mon-Thurs 09:00 to 17:00 and Friday from 9am to 4.30pm. Visit: https://www.compass-uk.org/services/warwickshire-cypdas/ for more information

The Recovery and Wellbeing Academy: Free courses and workshops to help people in their recoveryCall 0300 303 2626 or visit www.recoveryandwellbeing.covwarkpt.nhs.uk

The KaleidoscopeSuicide Bereavement Support Services call 0121 565 5665 or visit www.kaleidoscopeplus.org.uk

Veterans’ Mental Health TIL Service Call 0300 323 0137 24/7

RISE: Emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young peopleCall 0300 200 2021 8am – 6pm Mon-Fri or visit www.cwrise.com


It Takes Balls To Talk: Campaign to encourage people to talk about mental health issues. Visit www.ittakesballstotalk.com

UNISON Coventry City Branch Learning & Education

Standard

It is important that during this pandemic we keep well and look after our mental health. Engaging in learning, improving your skills and continuing with your education is a great way to keep your mind active and your spirits up.

UNISON learning offers free and discounted online courses to all members and we regularly post information about learning, funding and educational opportunities on our learning website. 

Visit https://covunisonlearning.wordpress.com/  for the latest information; grief and bereavement training and support to carers. These are sessions are 2.30 hours and delivered by the charity Cruse.

Any queries relating to workplace training, learning or further education or if you are interested in becoming a union learning rep in your workplace contact the branch office on 02476 550829 or email: office@unisoncoventry.co.uk

#COVID-19 Update for #UNISON Members. 12/01/21

Standard

Important Information Regarding this Email:
As our COVID-19 Updates contain issues relating to Workplace Health & Safety, we are now sending them out to all members regardless of their communication preferences. If you have not been receiving these emails in the past, it may because your communication preferences do not allow us to email you. The branch only emails members with news and information that is relevant to your membership and if you would like to review your communication preferences, please visit https://www.unison.org.uk/my-unison/

In This Issue…
Non-Council Members
Council Members
Libraries
Passenger Transport
Education

Non-Council Members…
Your employer has a duty to keep you safe, wherever you work and whatever work you do. They need to have updated their risk assessments and talked to you about the risks you are facing. If you are shielding, then they need to honour that and if you are vulnerable but not shielding, they must consider what they can do to keep you as safe as possible.

We know that not all our members are able to work from home and that many are still supporting service users daily; however, your safety must be key in all of this and your employer has a legal duty to ensure that.
We would urge all our members to ask their managers what precautions they should be taking and to raise any concerns.

With the high virus rate in Coventry many more people are now at risk of contracting Coronavirus and we want to support all members to ensure that they are as safe as possible.

Council Members…
UNISON raised our concerns today that this lockdown is not being treated as seriously as the one last March.  In the corporate meeting today, which was supported by other Trade Unions, UNISON called for the employer to go back to the full lockdown that was introduced at the beginning of March last year.  

We also stated that this approach to full lockdown should not be any shorter than 3 weeks so that (a) the most dangerous period that Professor Chris Whitty has referred to will have started to pass and (b) it gives management and the trades unions time to assess the new level of risk and discuss what the most appropriate way of delivering services are.

Without this approach, UNISON is concerned that virus levels in the city will rise and that it will further endanger staff, service users, and citizens of Coventry.  We were clear and unequivocal that with the new strain of the virus the risks currently are too great to do anything but follow the most cautious approach by the employer.

We would advise members to carefully consider any requests to work outside their home and raise directly and urgently with the branch any issues that you believe would put youself at risk of contracting the virus.

Libraries…
UNISON reps met with library management to share concerns regarding the continual operation of services from Central Library. They have shared updated risk assessments with us this afternoon and these should also be shared with staff shortly.

We urge members to tell management individually if you have any concerns about your health and safety in the workplace. This can be done as part of your vera review or as a separate conversation. UNISON is happy to support you in this discussion if required.

We have asked for the number of times click and collect has been used, and management has assured us that they will provide the data but also review demand to inform their decision making.

We have made a number of requests, asking that the airflow report is reviewed in light of the new variant of covid. We have also asked that cleaning regimes be shared and a review of isolating of materials.

Management is reviewing staffing numbers to ensure that no more than the absolute minimum are in work to complete tasks. We have requested that management review their decision to continue with services and we will be meeting them on Monday.

Passenger Transport…
UNISON asked for a meeting on Monday last week because we were in tier 4, with the announcement that we would go into full lockdown on Monday evening it became more urgent that we made sure our members were safe and able to work confidently.  After a meeting early Tuesday with UNITE attending also we gained agreement that the service area would look to reduce service users. 

It was confirmed yesterday, after UNISON’s request, that the new risk assessment ensures that no more than 4 pupils will be on a bus and that the manifest should be consistent. There has also been, at our request, a firm commitment to encouraging the use of hand gel and masks where appropriate.

Education…
UNISON intends to respond to the new DfE guidance for schools in England on restricting attendance during the national lockdown. There will be a new risk assessment checklist this week.

Maximum class and bubble sizes
We are urging school leaders and headteachers to implement the following measures to protect pupils and staff from the new COVID strain, to reduce community spread and protect our NHS:

• Limit bubble sizes to a maximum of 15 pupils per class or 50% of the school’s usual class size, whichever is smaller, and ensure 2m social distancing
• Staff to remain within their bubble at all times with no crossover working.

Special schools and Alternative Provision
In special schools and alternative provision, it will not be possible, or even appropriate, for every child to receive face-to-face provision every day. We are therefore calling for schools to be given the flexibility to establish which vulnerable learners could be offered time in schools.
Additional guidance for special schools/colleges and alternative provision is on the national website at the bottom of this page: https://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/education-services/key-issues/covid-19-closures/

Early years and Nurseries
The government has decided early years settings should remain open to all children.
UNISON is campaigning for them to be treated in the same way as schools. Support this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/566718.)
The government is refusing to publish the scientific evidence for the different treatment of early years despite calls from across the sector.
If settings do remain open, we believe that they must;

• Undertake revised risk assessments, taking into account the increased transmissibility of new variant and the move to COVID alert level 5.
• Restrict numbers of children and ‘bubble’ sizes to 8 children, as was the case when settings re-opened after the first wave of the pandemic.

Section 44
In parliament last week Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, said that UNISON and the NEU had accepted that the advice we gave members about their health and safety rights was ‘incorrect’.
We believe it was the right advice to give at the time and we made this clear in our response to the government. After the government directed the closure of schools, NEU and UNISON removed the advice from our websites because the situation had changed.
But this emphatically does not mean we believe face-to-face work with full or near-full classes in schools is safe in the current circumstances. UNISON and the NEU have written to schools, setting the record straight and responding to messages coming out of the Department for Education. Members’ individual rights under health and safety law have not changed – see our health and safety guidance.

However, unlike last week, the risks facing members may differ between workplaces and therefore we are now asking them to speak to their branch first if they have serious health and safety concerns about being in the workplace.
Petition: Shut all nurseries and early years settings during lockdown

Urgent call for the government to close all nurseries and early years settings considering the new lockdown to protect early years staff.

Please sign the petition…
https://petition.parliament.uk/

UNISON Coventry City Branch

Call us on 02476 550829
email us at office@unisoncoventry.co.uk

#COVID-19 #Coventry #City #UNISON Update 08/01/21

Standard

All Members…

The branch is starting to receive numerous queries from staff who under previous lockdowns have been directed to work from home but are now being told that they are “key workers” and should be coming into office locations.  UNISON is clear that this lockdown is even more serious than the November lockdown given the new strain of the virus.  If your manager is now insisting that you come into the office, please re-iterate to them the advice given by the government that if you can work from home then you should.   Then get in contact with us and ensure that we are aware of what your service area is proposing.

Adult Social Care Members…
UNISON is aware of the issues arising in day ops and are discussing with management ways in which risks are managed and minimised for you. Please check with your manager that risk assessments have been reviewed to reflect risks posed by the new variant of Covid 19. Please get in touch if you have any concerns.

Library Members…
We are due to meet the management team on Monday to discuss the level of service being offered during this latest lockdown and the issues raised by members as a result of this.

Due to the level of concern raised, the advice of UNISON nationally and CILIP we have written to the head of service today, copying in the Kevin Maton, the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills. We have requested that Libraries cease services from Central Library as is their plan and enable staff to work from home or remain home if this is not possible.

Are you a key worker? Can you request your child goes to school because of your role?

This question has been raised because of verbal information received from Libraries management by some staff. To date, the critical worker list on the government website does not specify that Library staff are key workers.

Management has confirmed that the DCMs guidance has not been updated to reflect this. Therefore we would not advise members to exercise a right to a place for their child on this basis at the moment

We will update you as soon as we receive a response.

Schools Members…

Do all staff need to be at school during lockdown?

No. Schools and colleges should ensure they have sufficient staff on-site to operate safely and support the on-site provision but all other staff should work from home where possible. A rota system would be the safest and fairest way to implement this. Some employees may prefer to work on-site – that’s a reasonable request. Despite the requirements for remote learning provision, it is not sensible to expect all staff to be on site.

Why are nurseries still open?  

UNISON is continuing to press the government to treat nurseries the same as primary schools.  We have seen a copy of the letter sent to Gavin Williamson on this matter.  It notes that SAGE member Prof Semple is on record as saying he couldn’t explain why nurseries were open and the decision was not a scientific one.

What are doing about the wide definition of vulnerable children? 

Nationally UNISON is arguing that only those children assessed as vulnerable in their COVID EHC plan should be attending school.  Employees should be asking for individual pupil risk assessments for all SEN pupils who have a EHC.

What’s happening with risk assessments?  

We’ve had very clear advice.  We cannot tell you a school is safe if we have not seen and agreed a revised risked assessment. Employers must communicate changes to RAs to you as a matter of urgency.

Why did I get an email from the NEU?  

NEU sent emails to all who signed its petition asking for school closures, asking them to join NEU.  If you received such an email, contact us.  You should have received an apology from the NEU for this misuse of data.

Why is my head saying UNISON has retracted the section 44 advice?  

The DfE sent a letter to the director of education telling them we had done this.  We haven’t.  We expect a national statement from UNISON on this.  It appears Gavin Williamson is misrepresenting UNISON views.  We have informed the local authority of this.

My head is saying that DfE has now given clearer advice on how to manage the risk?

The DfE did issue new guidance yesterday.  UNISON has stated nationally that they are dismayed that is does address our concerns about the definition of vulnerable children, keyworker children.  

The current advice is:

1 – Limit bubble sizes to a maximum of 15 pupils per class or 50% of the usual class size, whichever is smaller.
2 – Staff should remain within their bubbles at all times with no crossover working.
3 – In special schools and alternative provision, it will not be appropriate or possible to give every child face to face provision every day.

What happens if the school isn’t following UNISON advice?  

Contact us. Tell us. We have received further advice from head office on escalating issues which we are currently considering.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff should be working from home.

UNISON Coventry City Branch

Call us on 02476 550829
email us at office@unisoncoventry.co.uk