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.
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”