Latest Newsletter for @coventryCC staff working in Friargate.
Global environmental crisis and 20th September protests
Motion passed at Coventry City UNISON August branch committee
This branch notes
The existence of a global environmental crisis. Extremes in weather are increasing. The 10 hottest years on record in this country have taken place since 2003 and reflects the process of global warming.
The UK government has a target of net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050 but is not expected to reach that target. The global crisis has been met by protests and strikes of school students and young people around the planet.
Popularised by Greta Thunberg, these demonstrations have shown the anger that exists for the future of the planet and the desire for action and change. A Global Strike has been called for 20th September.
The branch further notes
That climate change is a workplace issue. The recent heatwave exposed once again the lack of a maximum workplace temperature. All workers, whether office based or outdoors, have the right to work in decent and safe conditions whatever the weather. Workplaces should have safe temperatures for work, and protection available against extremes of weather.
The branch believes
That climate change is caused by a profit driven economic system – capitalism. Under this system profit will always come first, before the needs of the planet, and ordinary people around the world.
This branch resolves
- To support and take part in protests on 20th September and to contact other trade unions in the city, school student groups etc to co-ordinate and to organise lunch time protests where we have members.
- To encourage and facilitate discussion amongst our membership about how the climate crisis can be stopped as well as calling on Coventry City Council @coventrycc to declare a Climate Emergency.
- To support changes to the law regarding a maximum workplace temperature, and to build up our union organisation in the workplaces by encouraging more Health and Safety reps to ensure that all workers are carrying out their duties in safe conditions.
- To forward this to other bodies of our union and the wider labour movement as appropriate, as well as public communications.
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”
Coventry City UNISON condemns the Proposals for Libraries in the public consultation which was undertaken by the library service from 19thNovember to 23rdDecember 2018.
The proposals were to;
- Remove all hard copies of newspapers and magazines;
- Open Central as an express model from 9-11 and on Sundays;
- Remove overdue charges for late return of books for children ages 8-16;
What an express model would look like for service users was not detailed.
What was not consulted on, either by staff or the public, was to introduce single staffing in four libraries – Aldermoor, Caludon Castle School, Canley and Coundon.
UNISON have a major concern over the safety and wellbeing of the staff and users of the libraries if they were single staffed.
This in a time when a Coventry Violence Summit was called on Monday 28thJanuary as victims of serious violence has increased by 17.4 per cent from 2017 to 2018. There has also been an increase of 16.7 per cent in knife crime.
These current levels of violence have been branded “unacceptable” by Martin Reeves.
What does the council see as the purpose for a library? It’s hard to see in the proposals.
The proposed annual cost saving alone of £319,000 for libraries is less than the ‘clean up’ costs for the Godiva Festival at £460,000. The Godiva festival is a wonderful thing for Coventry, and so are libraries which are open and available all year round.
Libraries should be at the Heart of our community, not marginalised and under resourced.
People use then for all sorts of reasons and especially in times of austerity they are more valuable than ever.
The Libraries Taskforce set up by Central Government said;
“Libraries are open to everyone. Their staff understand their community’s needs and are trusted to provide reliable guidance and support on a wide range of issues when people need help. They provide a vital role in helping public services reach out into communities.
They bring people together in vibrant community hubs which host local events and provide a shared sense of place for their users – something that is ever more important in an increasingly digital age”.
This is yet another nail in the coffin to a vital asset when we have been awarded the City of Culture 2021. Our Libraries can and should help to further develop the immense cultural and diverse asset which our members and the people of this great city deserve.
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Download it here. Union Street News Issue 18
UNISON welcomes the opportunity to respond to the comments made in the Coventry Evening Telegraph by Councillor Mutton, Cabinet Member for Resources, about sickness absence at Coventry City Council.
We too are very concerned at the upward trend in sickness absence in the organisation. Just a few weeks ago UNISON highlighted the issue of mental health in the workplace and held open meetings on Mental Health in the Workplace, which were well received. The aim of these meetings is to record the issues that affect our members’ mental health and well-being and to begin to address them with our employer.
We have raised questions about this matter with the employer over a number of years, not least as they apply to the Equality Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act. The employer has a duty of care to ensure employees are kept safe at work in all aspects, including health and well-being.
They also have a duty to ensure that those employees are properly supported in order that they can carry out their roles. We have also raised issues about bullying, harassment and cultural issues of discrimination many times with the City Council.
We know that the vast majority of absence is genuine. We also know that austerity and cuts to Council budgets have had a devastating impact on the workplace as employees are asked to take on more work with less staff which simply cannot continue.
Public Service should be respected and embraced. Our members often go above and beyond the call of duty. That needs to be recognised. For too long our members have been undermined by austerity. To excel, we need to become an employer of choice. Therefore it is important that our members are valued employees regardless of whom they are. The Council could embrace Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. We are at our best when everyone feels valued.