#Council & #School Staff deserve a Pay Rise.

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Council staff who kept local services and schools running deserve a real pay rise…Staff working for councils and in schools are worth more than the 1.75% pay offer put forward by employers after working through the worst of times

The consultation…
Nationally, members in local government were asked to vote on the employers’ pay offer of 1.75%, and 79% voted to reject it.

As a Branch, 91.2% of the members who voted, rejected the offer.

Disappointingly, our turnout figures meant that if this consultation was a formal Industrial Action Ballot, we would not have met the threshold for action even though the number of people rejecting it was clear.

We really need everyone to have their say on pay and are encouraging everyone to vote in the upcoming Industrial Action Ballot.

Thank you…
As a Branch, we would like to thank everyone who voted in the consultation but we encourage many more of you to do so in the Industrial Ballot coming out soon. It really is important as every single vote makes a massive difference.

What is happening next…
UNISON’s NJC Committee, representing 400,000 members in local government in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, has agreed to ballot members for industrial action over pay.


Council and school workers have been the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, working tirelessly and often at risk to our own safety to serve their communities.

Meanwhile, since 2010 the value of our pay has fallen in real terms by 25%. The 1.75% pay offer is completely inadequate and UNISON members have made their feelings about it clear.

Work will now begin on preparing for the industrial action ballot, in which UNISON will ask members to vote ‘YES’ to taking action in support of the campaign for better pay.

Keep looking out for more information

Are your details up to date?
It is now vital that the details we hold for you are correct. We especially need to know if your job, workplace, or your postal address has changed. It is also crucial for us to be able to contact you either by phone or more importantly, by email.

If you would like to check your details, please contact UNISONdirect on 0800 0857 857, call the branch on 02476 550 829 or visit www.unison.org.uk/my-unison where you can check and amend your details online.

Schools update…

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Most schools have opted to break for the summer rather than continue with catch-up. A reminder for all TTO employees that you can be asked to work over the summer break but cannot be forced to. If you agree, you should be paid for these extra hours.

Schools will have been planning staffing for next year.  Any member on a temporary contract for more than two years should contact us for support in getting their contract made permanent.

The local authority has advised schools to continue with their current risk management arrangements unchanged up to the end of the term.  If your school is not following this advice, let us know.  There is a snag as NHS test and trace will not be supporting schools with contact tracing.  This is being queried with the DfE.

It’s too early to say what the position will be in September, but we intend to continue talking to LA about this over the Summer.
UNISON’s national Schools Committee agreed in late June that the government needs to: 

• Re-introduce previous rules on face coverings and reduce bubble sizes to prevent further disruption
• Give schools the funding and logistical support to implement stronger preventative measures, including improved ventilation and smaller bubbles to stop further transmission of the virus in September  
• Keep current measures on bubbles and self-isolation for close contacts in place for at the least the first half of the autumn term until there is clear evidence that there is not another transmission spike in schools. 
• Increase testing capacity at school so that pupils can be tested on-site. Ongoing concerns about the accuracy of the rapid lateral flow tests, mean they should not be used as a ‘green light’ for close contacts or as an alternative to self-isolation.

UNISON is saying this because cases are rising rapidly, hospitals are near to capacity and admissions are rising, the risk of long COVID particularly for younger workers who aren’t fully vaccinated, and the risk to those who are still clinically vulnerable.

Keep in touch during the break as we expect further developments.

Growing Our Union – A message to our Members.

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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.

Ask members to call us on 02476 550829 or join online at http://www.joinunison.org

Council Staff Annual Leave…

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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.

UNISON Opposed to a pay FREEZE for Public Sector Staff!

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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.

Negotiations Update – Coventry City Council – @coventrycc

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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.

Coventry City Council Trades Union Side Statement

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Dear Councillor Duggins and Martin Reeves

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.

Coventry Schools:

Request that all schools regardless of establishment status adopt this approach.

Contractors:

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.

Agency:

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

The Community:

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.

We look forward to your response

Richard Harty

On behalf of GMB, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and UNITE

PRESS RELEASE – Sickness Absence in Coventry City Council

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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”

 

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