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Dear Colleague

As you know from the recent consultation ballot carried out by UNISON, this year’s pay offer of 1.75% (or 2.75% for those on the lowest grade) was rejected by UNISON members in councils and schools, yet employers have refused to offer more.

As a result, most members working in councils and schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own pay negotiating body) will be balloted on taking strike action. If you receive a ballot paper from UNISON, we believe you are eligible to vote and eligible to take strike action. 

Why is UNISON balloting for strike action, shouldn’t we continue to negotiate with employers?

We continue to try and negotiate with local government employers. After announcing plans for a strike ballot, UNISON and other unions have continued speaking and meeting with employers. But at every opportunity they have refused to budge. Even knowing that we are balloting for strike action they insist 1.75% is their final offer.

How do I vote?

Week commencing 6th December 2021, you will receive a ballot paper, a return envelope and some additional material explaining UNISON’s recommendation to members. The ballot paper asks members if they are prepared to take part in strike action. You should put a cross in the box against your choice on the ballot paper. This must be returned to CES (who are running the ballot on UNISON’s behalf) by 14 January 2022. 

Can I vote online?

No. The law doesn’t allow for electronic voting in these types of ballots.

Is UNISON recommending how I should vote?

UNISON is recommending members vote YES to strike action.

Are member in academies and multi-academy trusts included?

Most members in academies/multi-academy trusts can take part. If you receive a ballot paper from UNISON that means we believe you are eligible to vote and eligible to take strike action.

How Can I support the Campaign?

Tell your colleagues about the ballot and why they deserve fair pay. If your colleague is not a member of UNISON, they won’t be able to vote, so make sure you tell them to join by 3 January 2022. They can join online – it takes 5 minutes at join.unison.org.uk

What Should I do if I have not received my ballot paper?

You should receive your ballot paper by 14 December 2021. If you do not receive a ballot, contact UNISONdirect before 12 noon on 10 January 2022 so they can order a replacement for you. You can also request a duplicate ballot paper online via MyUnison at http://www.unison.org.uk/myunison/welcome

What happens if the results are for industrial action?

Once the results are received UNISON will consider the available options. Members will be kept informed.

If members vote to take strike action, how many days of strike action would we need to take?

If members vote to take strike action and we get a turnout of 50% or more, our aim would be to hold an initial day of strike action. But we think we’re likely to need to take further action to secure an improved pay offer. Without a 50% turnout, strike action will not be possible, so it’s important that you vote.

For the latest information, please visit: www.unison.org.uk/LGpay 

Regards

Theresa Kelly

Branch Secretary (Membership Services and Admin)

UNISON Dudley General Branch 

(Direct: 01384 815109)

UNISON Branch: http://unisondudleygeneral.org.uk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dudleyunison/


Dec 1, 2021

 

Colleagues

In July 2020, UNISON and UNITE submitted a Collective Grievance to the Council regarding institutionalised and systemic racism and whilst the submission detailed individual cases, this was as illustration and within the wider context of the allegations made of the systemic racism.

Given the scale and nature of our complaint both Trade Unions felt it could not be dealt with impartially nor objectively through an internal investigation and we believed the only way impartiality could be achieved was through the commissioning of an external independent investigation through a competent body such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Council supported this view and commissioned BRAP to undertake a solution focused transparent and independent enquiry that actively engaged stakeholders, as identified by the Council, Trade Unions and the successful contractor.

It was also agreed that a formal written evidence-based report of findings and recommendations would be provided for the Trade Unions including appropriate advice and guidance relating to communications and implementation.

The agreed timescale was for the enquiry to completeand report by June 2021.  In July 2021, the Trade Unions were then informed that the investigation had been extended to allow for further interviews to be conducted and the report would be provided in September 2021. We were then invited to a briefing session with the Chief Executive and Strategic HR on 11th October 2021 which subsequently got rescheduled to 1st November 2021.

The briefing session consisted of The Chief Executive, Strategic HR together with Chief Officers, Heads of Service and Team Manager as well as the Trade Unions and commenced with an introduction to the review from BRAP stating specifically that the review hadn’t been commissioned to look into individual grievances.  There was then a pre-recorded short film of BRAP providing some equality strand breakdown but nothing relevant to the allegations of institutionalised racism.

UNISON and UNITE then asked whether the report was complete and whether the Trade Unions are going to get access to the report and pressed for an exact timescale. We also informed the Chief Executive that our understanding was that BRAP were commissioned following the submission of the Collective Grievance, so if this enquiry didn’t respond to those individual grievancesas well as the wider context, where did that leave the Collective Grievance 15 months on and when will the Trade Unions and members involved have a response to that?  The response was that Trade Unions would receive a copy of the report at the end of November once the Chief Executive had carried out briefing sessions with council staff via the Leadership Forums.

There were further assurances from the council that we're going to work together to deal with the findings.  UNISON and UNITE asked how we can do that without the conclusions, recommendationsand crucially, an understanding of the testimonies given to the enquiry.  We also added, that to effectively tackle institutionalised discrimination, you first have tobuild consensus around acknowledging what the problem isand where does it come from.  The real challenge for organisations is not figuring out what we can we do but rather are we willing to do it.  We added thatmany studies have shown that just because you have a slew of equality and diversity policies in no way means organisations don't discriminate.  The Chief Executive acknowledged that point and said the intent to tackle the problem wouldn't end with this review, but it would be a continuous strategic approach on behalf of the authority. 

We requested a copy of the film and we were denied until the staff briefing sessions have been carried out.

This censorship gives serious cause for concern for the Trade Unions and you the Members not least because not only does there appear to be a deliberate attempt to airbrush out of the public consciousness and narrative the real reason for the independent review, i.e., the review was as a result of a collective grievance alleging institutionalised and systemic racism, but crucially the delay in releasing the report raises questions about how damning the contents of it are.

We believe that 15 months on, BAME Members affected by the issues that led to the collective grievance for institutionalised racism, deserve to know the findings and recommendations of the report.

These concerns are now being taken up with regional and/or national officers of both Unions in attempts to hold the council to account not only for how the investigation and outcomes of the enquiry and the report are being kept hidden from Members, but also in so doing, how the council has breached its own procedures in its handling of the collective grievance.

We will continue to keep you updated on further developments.

Theresa Kelly                       Danny Millward

Unison Branch Secretary      Unite Branch Secretary


Nov 29, 2021

 

Many have reached a point where they simply can’t afford to stay in the job they love.

More than two in five (42%) teaching assistants, caretakers, cleaners and other school support staff in England and Wales are actively looking for better paid jobs because of the rising cost of living and persistent low pay in education, according to a UNISON survey released today (Friday). 

The survey responses paint a bleak picture of school employees living with no heating or hot water because of broken boilers they can’t afford to fix, worrying about how to pay for dental treatment, relying on their children for money, or going to food banks. 

The findings reveal an overwhelming majority (96%) say the rate of pay for their school job isn’t enough for them to cope with increasing prices. Three in ten (31%) say they only take home between £1,000 and £1,199 each month. A similar proportion earn less than £1,000 a month. 

The findings are released to coincide with the launch of Stars in our Schools, UNISON’s annual celebration of the invaluable contribution made by all support staff in schools across the UK.   

While the survey reveals how only half of school support staff (49%) feel valued at work, many say they do feel appreciated by their colleagues and the children in school.

Seven in ten (71%) are worried about paying their utility and council tax bills and more than four in ten (47%) are anxious about paying their mortgage or rent.

As money is so tight, a quarter (25%) have resorted to taking second or even third jobs simply to make ends meet and stay in the job they love. Four in ten (41%) say they’ve had to cut back on spending and 35% have borrowed money from friends and family just to get by. 

Some say they’ve had to sell possessions online, others are working in nail bars, call centres, bars, restaurants and supermarkets, in addition to their job in school. 

UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards said: “School support staff are a dedicated workforce who go the extra mile every day and work incredibly hard. Schools couldn’t operate without them. But many have reached a point where they simply can’t afford to stay in the job they love. 

“Schools risk an exodus of support staff, as people reluctantly seek better-paid jobs. This is a terrible state of affairs, given the tireless work of support staff throughout the pandemic, ensuring schools remained open and free school meals were still provided. 

“But the rising cost of bills, food and travel means many of the stars in our schools risk falling into serious debt or losing their homes. They simply don’t earn enough for the incredible job they do. The government must make extra money available to enable schools to keep the support staff they’re so dependent upon by paying them properly.” 

School support staff who took part in the survey highlighted the impact that the rising cost of living was having upon them and their families. Comments included: 

“I cannot even pay my rent on my wages. I am renting a tiny two-bedroom place for £1,100 a month with my husband who has cancer and cannot work full time.” 

“As a single person, I am just over the threshold for any financial help from the government and struggle to keep on top of bills. I panic whenever I have to visit the dentist or optician.” 

“I can only cope financially as my youngest son, who is 25, is still living at home. He contributes 50% towards all the bills and groceries. When he eventually moves out, I have serious fears about how I’ll cope.”  

“I am struggling to keep my home, pay my bills and feed my children as I’m a single mother. I’m living on a credit card, which I can’t afford to pay off.”

“Childcare is half of my wages. With everything else increasing, I can’t even cover the bills.”

“I am being more careful with heating and buying food. I have told the children they won’t be getting as much for Christmas this year as can’t afford it.”

Notes to editors: 
– Thousands of schools across the UK are taking part in UNISON’s Stars in our Schools celebration of school support staff today.
– Christina is visiting St George’s School in Newport, Isle of Wight, to meet with staff on Friday 26 November. Across the country, schools are displaying thank you messages for support staff as well as delivering awards, cakes, goodie bags or putting on breakfasts/tea breaks.
– A total of 6,398 school support staff responded to the online UNISON survey between 3 and 12 November.
Most responses came from staff working in primary schools (59%), with 27% in secondary schools, 10% in special schools, 3% in nurseries and 1% in pupil referral units. A short report summarising the survey findings is here.
– UNISON is currently balloting school support staff over possible strike action on a 1.75% pay offer put forward by the local government employers. The consumer price index rate of inflation currently stands at 4.2%. The value of school support staff pay has been declining for a decade and for many it’s now 25% lower than in 2010.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.      

Media contacts: 
Fatima Ayad M:07508 080383 E f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

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Nov 26, 2021

 

The government made last minute amendments to the Health and Care Bill this week – changes that will hit the poorest the hardest. Here’s all you need to know and where things are at the moment

Photo of entrance to Salisbury district hospital, with ambulance in the driveway

What is it?

The Health and Care Bill is the first major piece of NHS legislation since the disastrous ‘Lansley Act’ of 2012. It focuses largely on the NHS in England and seeks to put into law the main elements of the government’s Integration and Innovation white paper, published earlier this year.

Where has it come from?

There has been widespread consensus across the NHS for several years about the damage being done to the service by the 2012 Act. It has forced decision makers to use competition when organising health services and has blocked joined-up working across the NHS. Since 2019 NHS England has been working on plans to change the law away from Lansley’s market madness.

What structural changes will the Bill bring about?

The Bill sets up a series of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to cover England. The ICSs will include an Integrated Care Board (ICB), the key element in the new system which will assume the commissioning responsibilities currently undertaken by clinical commissioning groups. There will also be an Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), a secondary part of the system intended to give a voice to the wider health and care community.

Are there any positives in the Bill?

The Bill contains some important measures that UNISON supports and has been championing for the past decade. These include plans to scrap the competition enforcement powers of health regulators and to get rid of the existing procurement system that insists on the use of competition. The Bill reinstates the government’s ability to establish new NHS trusts, meaning that if an ICS wants to set up a new provider body it can do so from within the public sector. There is also an Employment Commitment for staff affected by the changes that provides greater certainty for the workforce than has been the case with previous NHS overhauls.

What about the downsides?

The white paper sought to add in extra elements on top of the work that NHS England had previously set in motion. As a result, the Bill includes more controversial elements that hand greater powers to the Secretary of State. UNISON is also particularly concerned that private companies could be a part of the new ICPs if they are already playing a role in the local health economy, and more should be done to make clear that the NHS should be the default provider of care.

Have any changes been made?

The campaigning of UNISON and others has helped produce some improvements. For instance, the government has been forced to produce its own amendment blocking those with links to private healthcare from taking up roles on ICBs. Government ministers have also placed in writing their commitment to add ICBs to the list of employers that can use the Agenda for Change pay system, in direct response to demands from UNISON that the Bill should do nothing to undermine national pay bargaining.

What about social care?

For a Bill that purports to be about health and care, there is very little on social care, despite the growing crisis within the sector. However, the government has now bolted on its controversial plans to change the cap on the amount people pay for their care costs. This means that the least well-off will particularly lose out, as means-tested support will no longer count towards the cap.

What is UNISON doing on the Bill?

UNISON has been working with MPs to achieve the changes outlined above and to apply pressure in other areas. The union also works closely with other unions and campaigners on joint initiatives, including the Health Campaigns Together alliance which has produced briefing materials targeting the negative aspects of the Bill.

What happens next?

The Bill has just completed its passage through the House of Commons and moves to the Lords on 7 December, where it is expected to receive greater scrutiny. The cap on care costs seems certain to be challenged again, with several Conservative peers suggesting they will support attempts to amend the Bill.

As general secretary Christina McAnea says: “UNISON will campaign relentlessly against the negative aspects of the Bill, including the totally unfair Tory plans that will see the least well off pay the biggest share of their income to meet the costs of care.”

Further updates will be given as the bill progresses.

 


Nov 26, 2021

Nearly a third (31%) of care staff say staffing levels are dangerously low, getting worse and negatively affecting the care provided, says a UNISON survey published today (Wednesday).

The findings are based on responses from more than 1,600 care employees and reveal some dying residents are being denied a dignified end to their lives. This is because there are not enough staff to sit with them in their final hours, says the union.

Other shocking consequences of the staffing crisis highlighted by the survey include people being left in dirty sheets, denied regular baths or showers, and not helped to dress until the afternoon.

An overwhelming majority (97%) of workers say their care employer is currently experiencing staffing shortages with burnout, overwork, and low pay (or better pay elsewhere) among the main reasons cited.

 

 

The findings were based on responses from care workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The majority (52%) work in care homes, with the rest providing support in other locations such as people’s own homes or in supported living accommodation.

Other findings from the survey include two thirds (67%) of staff saying they are thinking of leaving social care. The union says this is a disastrous but inevitable consequence of poverty wages, low morale and years of chronic underfunding.

Care workers who took part in the survey were asked to choose a statement that best described the situation where they worked. A total of 47% said staffing shortages are having a negative impact on the care provided and 31% that staffing levels are dangerously low, getting worse and having a negative impact on the care provided.

This compares with 20% who said there are some staffing shortages but their workplace is managing, and 1% who said the situation is fine and there are no serious staffing shortages.

Of those thinking of leaving social care, the top reasons staff gave were burnout, stress, mental health and wellbeing (30%), followed by better pay elsewhere or low pay (29%) and compulsory vaccination (14%). Other reasons for wanting to quit included poor treatment by their employer (11%) and overwork due to staffing shortages (10%).

Commenting on the findings, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Social care is experiencing an unprecedented staffing crisis.

“Care workers are leaving in their droves – burnt out from the pandemic, exhausted from covering under-staffed shifts and fed up with low wages.

“This is nothing short of a nightmare for families worried about the care of their loved ones, overworked employees struggling to cope and employers concerned they won’t have the staff to stay open.

“The care sector is desperately short of workers and can’t wait months for the government to come up with a solution.

“Ministers should give all care employees some early festive cheer and announce an across-the-board pay rise. This would persuade many on the verge of quitting to stay and encourage more people to think seriously about working in social care.”

Care workers who took part in the survey highlighted the impact that staffing shortages were having on the quality of care delivered and on staff morale. Comments included:

·       “People aren’t getting regular baths or showers, just a wash. There’s no time to do the job properly. Some are not getting dressed until 2pm, and assisted feeding is rushed. Staff are exhausted, angry and upset because they know they just don’t have the time to do everything as they should.”

·       “There are not enough carers on each shift. Residents are being put to bed early just so staff can deal with all the residents.”

·       “The dying aren’t dying with dignity because there’s not enough staff to sit with people in their final hours. Residents are being neglected, not having baths, meals are late, and staff are exhausted.”

·       “There are unsafe staffing levels on both the day and night shifts. Care is depressingly rushed and residents long for just those few extra minutes of social contact. But we simply don’t have the time. Staff are on their knees. Many are taking jobs in supermarkets for the same pay but far less stress.”

·       “People aren’t getting enough one-to-one time or the right care due to low staffing levels. More falls are happening, and accidents are occurring more frequently.”

·       “The level of care is declining as there aren’t enough carers to do the job. People are being left in wet, dirty beds.”

This month, the government’s ‘no jab, no job’ mandate for care home staff in England came into force. Until Christmas Eve, care workers can temporarily exempt themselves from having the Covid jab. After this date they will require a formal medical exemption. UNISON fears the end of the year could see an exodus of staff, pushing the care sector over the edge and forcing homes to close.

Notes to editors:   
-The survey was carried out between 13 October and 4 November 2021 and received responses from 1,637 care workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Survey data available on request. 
-Case studies (all names have been changed):   
Residential care worker Pat, 21 says staffing levels on her night shifts are often half what they should be. She says: “Staff are doing everything they can to deliver the best care possible, but there simply aren’t enough of us. It’s unfair on the residents. Often, the only option is to change the clothes of someone who soiled their bed without washing them. There’s also barely time to wash residents’ hair so it doesn’t get done as often as it should. I recently had to choose between sitting and holding the hand of a dying resident until their family arrived or going to clean someone up.”
Suzanne, also a residential care worker, describes staff levels as ‘dangerously low’ at times with care ‘well below acceptable standards’. The 40-year-old says: “We often look after more residents than we should so can’t provide quality basic care. I’ve had to leave residents in tears because I had to care for someone else who also needed me. A few colleagues have been lost due to the vaccination deadline and almost half the workforce is off sick because of stress or illness. I took a pay cut to get into care – I love the job, but it’s taking its toll on me.”   
-UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

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Nov 24, 2021

 

Getting the UK’s public services across the net zero line will require £140bn of government funding by 2035

Getting the UK’s public services across the net zero line will require £140bn of government funding by 2035, says new research published today (Monday) by UNISON.

If the government’s 2050 target is to be met, the UK’s hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, care homes, town halls, leisure centres, police stations, courts, social housing, and water, transport and environmental services all need to be part of the plan, says the union.

The report, Getting to Net Zero in Public Services: The Road to Decarbonisation, says that without government funding, public services still reeling from a decade of austerity, will struggle to decarbonise.

In the absence of a significant capital injection of funds, says the report, public services would only be able to move slowly towards net zero, taking resources from already stretched budgets, with disastrous consequences.

Measures like making all public buildings energy efficient, installing roof top solar panels, the introduction of electric vehicle fleets and LED streetlighting could create almost a quarter of a million new jobs, according to the report. It would also mean cheaper energy bills and lower transport costs for public services.

According to the report, public services currently account for about 8% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, with the NHS about 4% of that. The NHS aims to reach net zero by 2040, and more than a third of councils have committed to get to that point by 2030.

Of all the public services examined in the report, local government requires the most up-front investment, to the tune of some £68bn. This is because councils are responsible for making buildings energy efficient, introducing a comprehensive cycling infrastructure and greening waste collection and processing.

Launching the report in Glasgow later today, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea will say: “The cost of moving across to greener public services won’t come cheap, but there’s not a moment to lose.

“The sooner a start can be made, the quicker emissions will begin to come down and public service bills reduce. But the pace of green change needs to increase and significantly too.

“Private investment won’t provide the solution either. This would mean delay and increased taxes for those least able to pay. The government must borrow now to help public services over the green line. Otherwise, the cost of transitioning will be anything but just.”

Notes to editors:

 Getting to Net Zero in Public Services: The Road to Decarbonisation can be accessed here. The report is being launched at UNISON’s offices in Glasgow at noon today.

– UNISON commissioned Getting to Net Zero in Public Services from the University of Greenwich Public Services International Research Unit and Transition Economics.

-UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk


Nov 10, 2021

Five ways to take part in COP26

UNISON will be playing a key role up to and during the global summit on climate change. But branches and members don’t need to go to Glasgow to take part

Green UNISON logo

The UN will host the 26th Climate Conference from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow, with over 198 countries taking part. World leaders will make key decisions on how countries will commit to tackle the climate emergency.

Trade unions will also take part as ‘observers’ and use their collective voice to influence decisions, put forward demands for a ‘just transition’ to a low-carbon economy and hold governments to account.

UNISON is working hard to promote public services as key models of green transition and to ensure that the voices of public service workers are heard in Glasgow.

But the union’s branches and members don’t need to go to Glasgow to take part. For example, they can join the Global Day of Action For Climate Justice in their own cities or regions, on 6 November, and keep up to date digitally on what actions governments have agreed at the end of each day of COP26.

And there’s no need to wait. Here are five green things branches and members can do right now:

1. Support young people to have their say

Hold a solidarity activity on Friday 5 November to support young people’s voices on the impact of climate change on their futures.

The Scottish branch of the Greta Thunberg-inspired movement Fridays for Future (FFF) will be leading a ‘climate strike’ of schools, students and young people. Other UK branches of the FFF may also join in.

Anti-trade union laws mean that UNISON branches cannot take any solidarity strike action, but there are many ways you can show your support for the campaigners:

  • branches can take workplace lunchtime action to show solidarity with school students and young people on the day;
  • members can post solidarity photos on social media;
  • young members can tune into UNISON’s young members green webinar on 4 November.

2. Join the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

UNISON is mobilising for the day of action, organised by the COP26 Coalition, on Saturday 6 November, when civil society and trade unions will assemble in cities and towns all over the UK.

Look out for UNISON and TUC regional information about the day. You can also find out where your nearest assembly point is at the COP26 Coalition website.

If you can’t join the Day of Action in person, then watch it live on YouTube from noon on the 6 November.

3. Hold branch Greening Public Services events

Run a lunchtime stall in the work canteen, or organise a film show or a talk. Perhaps invite a school or student climate striker, or a speaker from a nearby environmental campaigning organisation to come along. 

You could also run a green workplace training activity. Talk to your UNISON learning rep and look into running a lunchtime activity session for green reps and members who’d like to learn more.

4. Join the COP26 Peoples Summit debates 

As world leaders meet to discuss our planet’s future, the COP26 Coalition will host The People’s Summit for Climate Justice, from 7-10 November. There will be daily debates, events and webinars – both in person and online.

At the end of every day there will also be a live-stream commenting on what decisions were made at the COP26 conference.

You can sign up to virtual events here:

5. Be part of Green UNISON

  • Use hashtags #GreenUnison and #COP26 in Twitter and Facebook events, photographs and solidarity messages from your branch or as an individual;
  • Use UNISON’s Greening of Public services logo in your green work;
  • Join the Green UNISON network to keep up to date with UNISON Green news, events and resources to help with your branch green activities.

Nov 5, 2021

UNISON call for more inspection and enforcement of workplace health and safety as results of a new survey are released

woman with mask on in front of laptop, sanitising her hands

Last month, UNISON surveyed its health and safety representatives to understand more about the issues members are facing in their workplaces.

Nearly half of respondents said that their employer had not improved ventilation and air circulation in their workplace, with 36% saying that they feel less safe in the workplace now, than they did 12 months ago.

Just under a quarter of respondents reported that their COVID-19 risk assessments had not been reviewed in the last six months and one in four reported that their employers had not carried out individual risk assessments for more vulnerable workers.

Almost three-quarters of reps reported that members’ mental health had declined during the pandemic, with 45% saying that their employer had not carried out any assessment of work-related stress.

Following the results of the survey, UNISON has written to the Health and Safety Executive to share the key findings and call for further inspections and enforcement action where employers are failing in their duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk.

UNISON national officer for health and safety Kim Sunley says: “The survey paints an alarming picture of a lack of effective mitigations in the workplace and, in the absence of the government stepping up to protect workers, employers must take the initiative and ensure that they are complying with health and safety regulations.

“They need to be reviewing risk assessments and putting all reasonably practicable measures in place to protect our members. Furthermore, the Health and Safety Executive should be proactively inspecting workplaces and taking enforcement action where organisations are not doing enough to protect their employees.”

Meanwhile, on Friday, UNISON joined other unions in urging ministers to intervene to curb the rise in COVID-19 cases, calling for measures including mandatory face coverings on transport and in shops, as well as an increase to sick pay.

On the news that last week’s data showed the highest number of deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test since March, Ms Sunley said: “It should start alarm bells ringing across the Westminster government, our public health bodies and workplace safety regulator.

“We are entering the critical winter period in terms of NHS capacity, flu season and waning immunity amongst the working age population. The government has to act now to halt this perfect storm.”

The full survey and recommendations can be accessed here: Health and safety reps survey


Oct 30, 2021

Financial assistance

If you are a member and you are experiencing financial difficulties, whether due to coronavirus or other circumstances, There for You can offer you support, including one-off grants.

COVID-19 response fund

The COVID-19 response fund offers grants of up to £350 to help members whose household incomes have been affected by the pandemic.

In addition to There for You funds, we are very grateful to have received generous grants from UNISON and CHSA (the COVID-19 Healthcare Support Appeal) which enable us to support members who are struggling at this time.

Check whether you are eligible and apply online here:

Apply online


Oct 30, 2021

The chancellor’s budget statement is not what we expect from politicians who claim that theirs is the real party of public services

Christina McAnea presenting UNISON’s petition to the Treasury, demanding Chancellor Rishi Sunak rebuild public services. © Jess Hurd

For days we’ve been bombarded with big pre-budget announcements from the Treasury on ending the pay freeze and investing in the NHS. And today we heard from Chancellor Rishi Sunak directly about a new age of optimism, of rising wages, investment in public services and levelling up.

It’s designed to dazzle and gloss over the really important details, such as whether these commitments will be backed by the cash needed to turn a promise into the pay rises our members deserve, or whether the new investment in public services will make up the ground lost over the more than 10 years of austerity.

And it’s when we get into the detail of the spending announcement that we see Rishi Sunak’s claim that the Conservatives are the real party of public services for what it really is – a masterclass in smoke and mirrors.

  • He promised 20,000 new police officers, but neglected to mention the fact that we’ve lost more than 40,000 police staff and officers since 2010
  • He promised 50,000 new nurses at a time when there are 94,000 vacancies in the NHS and 105,000 in social care
  • He said that the pay freeze was over, and that the public services would see a return to ‘fair and affordable pay rises’, the day after business minister Paul Scully let slip that the government could not guarantee that any increases next year would be higher than the rate of inflation. The chancellor himself said today that inflation on the CPI measure would be 4% next year

UNISON called on the chancellor to rebuild our public services in his spending review. Central to that rebuilding are the people who run each service. To have enough workers, on enough pay, the chancellor must deliver sustainable long-term investment to government departments, devolved nations and local authorities.

UNISON and other unions met with the chancellor and provided a written submission to make our members’ case. This week I also delivered a petition on behalf of our 1.3 million members to the Treasury.

The austerity decade laid waste to local government and further education. It resulted in far lower increases in NHS investment than we saw under the last Labour government and it needs to be higher to provide people with the best care available.

Today we saw that the government knows what it should do, but that, for ideological reasons, it can only go so far. This is not what we expect from politicians who claim that theirs is the real party of public services.


Oct 30, 2021
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