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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PRESS RELEASE – Coventry Libraries – An Express service to nowhere?

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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.

Follow @coventryunison on twitter.

 

ENDS

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PRESS RELEASE – Sickness absence at Coventry City Council – ‘Mental Health Matters’

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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.

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Please phone 02476 550829 or email sarah.feeney@unisoncoventry.co.uk  or richard.harty@unisoncoventry.co.uk with any enquiries.

Proposed Changes to Location Arrangements for Council Staff in Friargate

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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? 

Download our Hotline here – hotline281118b

Thanks 

Coventry City UNISON 

Mental Health in Coventry City Council – Update to Council Staff

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Meetings identify significant issues around Mental Health & Wellbeing in Coventry City Council

UNISON has held two meetings with staff in recent weeks to discuss the impact of mental health on the workplace, how issues have been with by the employer and what other steps might have been taken to address them.

We wish to thank all those who attended the meetings.  Staff gave the union a big insight into the depth of the issues and concerns that people have.  For some this may not have been easy.  We really appreciate the input we have received.

UNISON will now be considering the information we have received, identifying any common themes, and making arrangements to establish a working group with members.  The working group’s task will be to come up with specific actions for the employer which could improve Mental Health & Wellbeing in the workplace.

Together we can be better. Join UNISON today to help us fight to end discrimination.

Download this statement – hotline281118

Thanks

Coventry City UNISON