Growing our Union… It’s not just personal benefits that a union provides. You too can be part of the movement that gave the world weekends off, the national minimum wage, workplace pensions, the right not to be sacked for being pregnant or sick and many more legal rights.
These achievements have only been possible because people came together to work collectively, for the benefit of millions.
Make sure your friends and colleagues know about unions
UNISON is a large union, with around 1.3 million members. That’s a lot of people to have on your side when there’s trouble. But it could be more.
Across the economy, trade union membership is quite low – and most workplaces will include workers who aren’t members of any union. But the more union members there are at work – the higher our ‘union density’ in the jargon – the stronger our voice and more able we are to protect one another.
And what’s true in individual workplaces and councils, NHS trusts, other public bodies is also true of society as a whole.
The first and most obvious way to grow the movement is to ask people to join. Most people who aren’t in a union give one simple reason: “Because no-one asked.” So let’s ask them. It’s easier than you think.
There’s a saying in union circles that “like recruits like” – in other words, potential members are more likely to be recruited by colleagues they know and trust.
So talk with your colleagues about the union: be honest and be prepared to listen to their concerns and issues. Please spread the word and help UNISON to grow stronger.
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.
Branch Consultation shows that UNISON members overwhelmingly want decent pay!
Thank you to all UNISON members who took part in our recent consultation on what our pay claim should be for 2021/2022.
UNISON, the largest public service union, has responded with dismay to news that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is considering the implementation of a pay freeze for public sector staff, including thousands of Coventry residents.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said today (Friday): ‘Key workers across all public services remain at the heart of the fight against Covid…pay restraint …would be a cruel body blow to health, care, and public service employees working tirelessly to get us through the pandemic. It would also backfire badly with the public. The government must do what’s right next week and announce the wage rise all staff have more than earned. Anything less, risks destroying morale when the entire country is counting on them’.
The news comes as the Coventry City UNISON branch reveals that our members overwhelmingly voted for a 10% pay rise in an indicative consultation. This reflects real hardship for many public service staff, the impact of COVID-19 on hard-working families, and the continued negative influence of over a decade of austerity.
The results of the branch consultation on the 2021/2022 pay claim are below: There were 3 options
A) 5% or £10 per hour pay rate whichever is greater B) 8% or £10 per hour pay rate whichever is greater C) 10%
Members voted as follows
A) 8.1% B) 9.7% C) 82.1%
Therefore we have reported back to the national union that our branch thinks the union should submit a claim for 10%.
Quite simply, our members deserve decent pay for providing vital public services.
UNISON has been pushing the employer – @coventrycc – on issues for members working at home. The key issues that we have been raising is about flexi-time being denied to members and the provision of equipment due to working from home going to be longer term than was originally thought.
HR have now confirmed to UNISON that they are not advising that flexi cannot be accrued or used and that they met with all senior service managers last week to confirm that fact.
If your manager is denying you the use of Flexi then please get in touch so that we can resolve this issue.
The issue of equipment is still not resolved with the employer – we continue to raise individually on behalf of members and collectively that people are struggling to work at home due to lack of proper equipment.
Strategic Management Board did confirm this week that they are looking into this matter now and hope to come back shortly with some responses on the issues we have been raising.
UNISON believe that the employer needs to ensure that people have the same ability to work in proper surroundings whether they are at home or in the office and it is not acceptable that four months into this crisis people are not able to access equipment that they need. If you have concerns about lack of equipment then please get in touch.
The other big issue is returning to work – it is clear that with social distancing in force not all staff will be able to return to their normal place of work full time. We continue to work with service areas on risk assessments and proposals for this to happen safely where it can.
Libraries have consulted on their risk assessments and UNISON have been very impressed with the work that they have done and the approach to joint working. If your manager is starting to talk about a return to work then please get in touch and check that we are aware and included in those discussions.
Open letter to the Leader of Coventry City Council and Chief Executive @coventrycc
Coventry City Council Trades union side Statement
The Trades unions side have met this morning to discuss the urgent issue of Covid19 and in a spirit of partnership we would be grateful for your urgent consideration on these matters given the unprecedented situation:
• All sickness absence monitoring to cease and meetings under the PHAW unless by TU agreement. • Full sick pay to be paid to all staff regardless of length of service or where their entitlement has reduced or expired. • No reduction in pay for staff who are self-isolating or caring for someone who is at risk. • No reduction in pay for any worker having to take time away to look after their children. • No redundancy consultations. • All restructures to go on hold. • Disciplinaries where no risk to life and limb or others to be postponed. • All other grievances/disciplinaries/capabilities/and Appeals to only go ahead on a case by case basis in agreement with the Trades Unions. • For those workers who would be considered to be vulnerable to Coronavirus, those with underlying health conditions are to be allowed to self-isolate and/or work from home if they so wish. • All managers to review all workers who have or are about to return to work from sickness with a view to discussing self-isolation. • Any worker who is willing and able and has the right resources available to be able to work from home with immediate effect should do so if they so wish. • Coventry city Council to seek information from the workforce as to what skills, expertise they can volunteer in order to assist the Council to be able to redirect resources to socially useful activities and offer training. • Any worker volunteering to work at a higher grade will be paid at that rate. • No worker will suffer financial detriment from volunteering. • Communication to go out daily giving clear guidance about what the Council is doing across all services. This communication should go out in several formats eg Email, flyers, Council website (not just the intranet). This communication will be done in a way as to demonstrate we understand the workforce will be the ones passing on information about the Councils response and can play a useful role in carrying our and reinforcing these messages. • Business continuity meetings to include Trades union reps. • Regime of regular cleaning of all Council facilities used by multiple users and the public. • Urgent reviews and risk assessments to be carried out with the involvement and collaboration of all staff to determine that work must be done and what can be done differently or postponed in order to reduce contact with the public e.g. telephone assessments instead of face to face meetings. • For employees who are at higher risk of infection due to directly working with the most vulnerable – older people or people in poor health will need more specific precautions. In such cases a specific risk assessment for contamination risk should be performed. This is a COSHH Assessment required under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. • Provision of counselling services for all staff to be promoted in all future communication in order to look after the mental well-being of the workforce. • To ensure adequate supplies for handwashing is provided for mobile workers. • End hot desking. • Where possible allow workers to vary working hours to reduce risk of infection on congested public transport. • Stop car park charges and review how we support front line staff.
Request that all schools regardless of establishment status adopt this approach.
Coventry City Council to seek confirmation from all contractors who staff work alongside Coventry City Council workers that they are also providing full pay for their staff who are off sick or self-isolating or needing to look after children.
Coventry City Council to seek confirmation from all agency organisations who do as above they are also providing full pay for their staff who are off sick or self-isolating or needing to look after children
What plans are in place to work alongside all other public services in the city, the Voluntary Sector and Private businesses to protect citizens and life.
Coventry City UNISON note that sickness absence due to stress has risen 10% in the last year. At a time of austerity with many council jobs having been lost and demand for services ever increasing this is no surprise to us. Coventry City UNISON are working with our members to try to address the issue of stress in the workplace and the causes of it. The union will be coming forward with proposals for the council to consider a proper mental health strategy; this is an issue that UNISON has been raising for some considerable time even getting the employer to do some training with MIND but unfortunately for many of our members they have not seen any benefit of this.
Sarah Feeney, Branch Secretary said in response to Cllr Mutton’s comments, “We were very surprised to see Cllr Mutton’s comments regarding his belief that an unnamed union has been encouraging its members to go off sick. The reality is that many of our members who are off sick with stress have needed time away from the workplace to get better. Our considerable experience tells us that it is a matter for the medical profession to determine whether an employee is fit for work and not a trade union. What is more have also consistently raised issues of Equality and Diversity that affect the culture of the work place which in turn impacts on absence. These concerns are well known to the employer.
In a number of cases management inaction for a period of months has led to both the absence and the prolonged nature of it and we would be more than happy to discuss these matters with Cllr Mutton. In respect of his comment about carers taking time off sick for childcare we do not recognise that from our work with our members; in reality a large amount of the sickness total is due to long periods of absence largely due to stress issues. The City Council needs to take seriously the issue of its duty of care to employees that is enshrined in law”
We want to update everyone on this issue as a number of members have been in contact with us.
UNISON has been made aware that some staff in Friargate have been informed of changes to their workplace location arrangements, however UNISON have been neither been informed nor consulted on these changes.
We have particular concerns that some staff report that they are being told they have to restrict the amount of work time they spend at Friargate.
Our corporate rep Sarah Feeney has contacted the employer. We will be updating members on these discussions when we have more information. In the meantime, we welcome your suggestions and comments on the issue.
Join UNISON today to help us fight for proper working conditions for all, and if you are already a member, could you become a rep or workplace contact for us?