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UNISON, alongside our sister trade unions, have serious concerns about the safety of staff, pupils and parents regarding the Governments plans on re-opening schools to more pupils.

In Dudley, we are seeking assurances from the Local Authority, that schools will only open to more pupils when it is safe to do so. We are aware that different schools are taking different approaches. Some Local Authorities have concluded it is not safe to open to the extra year groups as requested by the Government on 1st June. 

You can find here a a model letter to hand to your headteacher if you choose to. From the Branch we have written to over one hundred headteachers in Dudley, asking that they enter into collective discussions with us and provide a fully copy of their risk assessment. The joint trade unions have also written to every Labour Councillor pointing out our concerns.

If you have specific concerns about your school then please get in touch with us – either by phone on 01384 444323 – or email to dudley_unison@msn.com

See here for a copy of the joint union checklist guide for Primary Schools. We believe this checklist will clearly demonstrate just how unsafe increasing pupil numbers on 1 June would be.

Be sure to bookmark UNISON's national schools page on Facebook as well as UNISON's school advice page for the latest information and developments.


May 22, 2020

Prime Minister's plan to increase pupil numbers in schools before they are safe – urgent advice for members

You will no doubt have heard the Prime Minister's announcement on Sunday that the government intends to increase the number of children attending early years settings and primary schools in England from 1 June.

At UNISON we have always been clear that we want to work with government on the issue of schools opening to more pupils. However we firmly believe schools should only increase numbers when it is safe to do so for pupils, parents and staff. Any plan to reopen schools needs to address a range of issues including PPE, testing, tracing, isolation and social distancing. Government has to date failed to deliver on these vital safety measures.

The devolved nations have decided that it is not currently safe to increase numbers in schools, so why is the UK government being so cavalier with the lives and wellbeing of pupils and staff in England?

We are calling for a meeting with the government to work out a safe plan for getting staff back to work safely. So we are advising members not to engage with planning for a return to school from 1 June just yet. But keep an eye out on our website and Facebook page for urgent updates.

Please be assured this is about putting pressure on the government, not your individual school.

We need your views

Can you take a couple of minutes to tell us what you think?

Whatever type of school setting you work in, your answers will help us put pressure on government to hit the brakes until there's a proper plan in place.

You're the experts on what works in schools and you need to be heard.

Take the survey

Our key safety tests

Along with the other education unions, we have written to the Education Secretary outlining the key tests we believe must be met before schools in England can be safely reopened. They include:

  • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a test and trace scheme
  • A joint taskforce to agree statutory guidance
  • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families
  • Additional resources for enhanced cleaning, PPE and risk assessments
  • Local autonomy to close schools where testing finds clusters of new cases

Read our key tests in full

Fighting for you

From calling out the government for repeatedly forgetting about support staff; to challenging its claim that no education staff need PPE; to campaigning for those who live with someone in a vulnerable group to work from home – we're working nationally and locally to protect you.

If you have any concerns about the situation in your school, or what you're being asked to do, please get in touch with your local branch for support.


May 14, 2020

Just a brief but sincere note to say a very heartfelt Thank You to everyone in our Healthcare & Social Work teams for their dedication and professionalism during this crisis.

None of us have been through such trying times and it's heartwarming to see the praise and thanks across all social media for our health and care staff.

I know it hasn't been easy and we have more pressures to come over the coming weeks and months but it is reassuring to know that we are in good hands.

I served as a Police Officer for 30 years and had many scary moments but nothing like today, where the enemy is silent and deadly. To see our staff walking TOWARDS danger says it all about their character, inspirational.

As Chair of the Health & Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee it gives me great pride to send this note of thanks.

All the best and please stay safe.

Cllr. Dave Tyler
Chair, H&ASC.


May 6, 2020

"Coronavirus poses a serious threat to all of us. As social care and residential workers, we are at the forefront of the struggle against the virus. We put ourselves at risk to provide direct care and support to your families and loved ones."

"We need all necessary support, training, equipment and resources to allow us to give critical care, prevent the spread of disease and protect our communities."

UNISON West Midlands is campaigning to ensure social care workers receive the support and resources they need. The Government have made some commitments, but they do not adequately address concerns about resources and support getting to frontline staff and public services. More far-reaching intervention and enforcement is required to protect the social care and residential care workforce.

We are calling for urgent action now to protect vital care workers, the elderly and those most at risk to the spread of COVID-19.

If you work in social or residential care, please fill out the following survey to help us find out about the issues and realities that you are facing on the front lines, and make the case to those in power that more support is needed:


Apr 28, 2020

During the Coronavirus crisis you may be asked to carry out duties within your role that you think are risky. You may be given a new role, possibly in a new environment, or with a different employer, and this may bring health and safety challenges.

The following form is to help our members when raising H&S questions about tasks you may be given at work. It will act as a formal record of you raising a H&S concern and will allow UNISON to support you in making sure all tasks are performed safely. 

(Original form produced courtesy of the Birmingham branch of UNISON.)


Apr 28, 2020

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is pleased to announce the launch of a 24-7 support line for adults, older adults, and children and young people requiring urgent mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic - 0345 6460827.


Apr 24, 2020

As the fight against coronavirus continues and we move into the next 3 weeks of lockdown, employers should be protecting their workforce.

The Dudley General Branch staff are there for you if you have any concerns. Our Branch telephone number is 01384 444323.


Media stories please

The media are desperate for stories about frontline workers. So, if you have any stories to tell, please let our branch know, anonymously, if necessary.


Useful links (these will be regularly updated):

Official government guidance on the Coronavirus is here (take a look around the links there – lots of good info on a range of things):
https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

The NHS guidance on what to do if you think you have it:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The general UNISON guidance on the Coronavirus:
https://www.unison.org.uk/coronavirus-rights-work/

The UNISON guidance on PPE – has links to other pages for specific work groups:
https://www.unison.org.uk/coronavirus-rights-work/personal-protective-equipment-coronavirus/

UNISON advice on the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention - UNISON's Bargaining Support Group has published guidance on the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which is aimed at supporting negotiators dealing with the issue of 'furloughed' workers and it can be found here:
https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2020/04/Job-Retention-Scheme-Bargaining-Guidance-090420.pdf

Every news article on the UNISON website tagged with the Coronavirus is here:
https://www.unison.org.uk/tag/coronavirus/

 


Apr 21, 2020

‘Make sure frontline workers have the protection they need’

Frontline staff must be properly equipped to protect lives during the COVID-19 crisis, says UNISON, after proposals on ‘last-resort’ safety equipment were leaked.

General secretary Dave Prentis said the proposals from Public Health England contain “desperate measures” and “are a shocking indictment of the lack of proper planning and preparation for supplies in the pandemic.

Read the full story
Press release: Last-resort safety equipment plans are 'desperate'
Press release: Government must up its game on PPE
Press release: Care home deaths 'a national disgrace'
Press release: End VAT on PPE in national emergency
PPE alert: tell us what's happening in your workplace

 

Work on protecting members continues across the union

UNISON service groups all pushing to protect members in the coronavirus crisis.
Read the full story

 

Speaking up for our members

UNISON is speaking up for our members with a second round of national and local newspaper ads this week thanking our members for the extraordinary work they are doing to fight coronavirus.
Read more and download the ad for social media or as a poster

 

UNISON challenges government on PPE for education staff

UNISON has written to the Department for Education, after its updated guidance on social distancing in education settings said that education staff do not need personal protective equipment.
Read the full story

 

Interview with Dave Prentis: ‘I'm so proud’

“Our contribution to overcoming the crisis is to protect the people who are protecting us. We’re there for them. We know it’s not business as usual. We’re doing the best that we can, because our members deserve our protection.

“I’m simply in awe of the bravery and caring ethos our members are showing during this crisis. It’s not just in hospitals, it’s in care, it’s in schools, it’s social workers, it’s police support staff, it’s public service workers across the whole of the frontline.”
Read the full interview with the general secretary
> Coronavirus: latest advice and updates

 

On the care frontline

Everybody is worried about the virus. Carers are worried for themselves – and for clients too.
Read Mohammad Ahsan’s story

 

Slimmed down electronic CASE form

Streamlined form introduced to deal with current coronavirus and COVID-19 situation.
Find out more
Download the form


Apr 17, 2020

If you are struggling to take your annual leave this year due to COVID-19, you can now carry it over to take in the following 2 years. 

The changes to the Working Time Regulations will affect almost all workers, including agency staff and those on zero-hours. 

Please see the link below for further details: 

https://employeebenefits.co.uk/government-allow-employees-to-carry-over-annual-leave-for-two-years/


Apr 16, 2020

For most of us, the home is a safe space. But this safety does not extend to everyone, as statistics from the National Domestic Abuse helpline sadly bear out - seeing a 25% increase in calls since lockdown measures began. 

The government has announced a campaign to raise awareness of the helpline 0808 2000 247 run by Refuge, and said it will provide £2M for domestic abuse support.

We can all do our part by spotting signs of abuse early and providing support to help stop further attacks. If you know or fear someone may be experiencing domestic abuse:

  1. Spot: If you think someone’s behaviour is unusual, it is better to ask than to assume. Consider the use of closed questions (questions to which they can answer “yes” or “no”) in case someone else may be listening.
  2. Remember: domestic abuse isn’t always physical. It’s a pattern of controlling and intimidating behaviour that can be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual. It can happen in same-sex and heterosexual relationships.
  3. Support: The most important thing you can do is listen and believe. Keep in touch. This could be through regular video or phone calls, or if it is safer via emails or text messages. Be careful and sensitive. Keep checking in with them, even if they don’t want to seek help yet.
  4. Stop abuse: Encourage them to call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The helpline will put them in touch with local services who can help them make a plan to get safe. People experiencing domestic abuse are allowed to leave their home to seek help during lockdown. If serious domestic abuse is disclosed, you should encourage them to call 101, or 999 if the situation is critical.

Apr 14, 2020
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