Falkirk UNISON workplace matters



UNISON Falkirk Council Building the Resistance in Falkirk


As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, it may seem the rush to return to work has allowed the virus fresh opportunities to attack and infect. We must resist this new attack and keep safe.

UNISON wants to protect you and to work with all to stop the spread of this virus.

Therefore, at a local level the branch is continuing to ensure the council has a strategy and a plan re putting your safety at work at the centre of this plan.


UNISON Falkirk Council advise

  1. Continue to work from home whenever and wherever possible.

  2. All work-related tasks should be risk assessed before they are carried out, including traveling, entering buildings and indeed work locations (including working from home).

  3. Limit the number of direct contacts or visits you have on any given workday, only do a home visit if it is essential.

  4. Maintain the social distance 2-meter rule

  5. Wear appropriate PPE as is required within any given risk assessment.

  6. Wear a face covering within any enclosed space.

  7. Don't risk your Health. If you are feeling unwell, work from home and contact your G.P.

  8. Self-isolate when instructed to do so, don't take any risks, Stay at Home.

The above 8-point plan will prevent the spread of the virus and it will limit your direct contact at this time with others to wear possible zero.

That said we know that for front-line workers and those who work directly with the public this is not always possible.

UNISON however would say that it is not unrealistic to ensure your safety at work. UNISON continues to argue for robust risk assessments before any task or job is carried out. You have a right to see and discuss any risk assessment relevant to your job.

If you are not happy with the said risk assessment contact UNISON. If no risk assessment is in place, contact the branch. At a local level some risk assessment has not yet been done and some previously completed risk assessments need updated.


UNISON Falkirk Council Branch also continue to argue for a greater use of face masks within the council and we have argued for this consistently since March.

Your Safety at work, wherever that work might be is our Unions number one priority at this time. Help us and tell us of any health and safety concerns you have.

UNISON is there for you and is your friend at work.

Stewart Cook

Joint Secretary

UNISON Falkirk Council

In this newsletter

  • No Going Back to Normal

  • Don’t stay on mute

  • Employee Assistance Programme

  • General Secretary Election

  • Pension found to be discriminatory – UNISON’s plan to fix it

  • Black Workers & Covid – New UNISON report

  • Branch holds Virtual Meetings using webinars

  • Test and Protect app Launched

  • Are you following your branch social media?

  • Update you contact details.

No Going Back to Normal


KEY WORKERS DESERVE BETTER


Thousands of key workers died during the pandemic looking after us.


In the public services nurses, care workers, cleaners and more made the ultimate sacrifice to help others.

This was all the more heart-breaking, because for years before COVID-19, these public service workers have been undervalued, underpaid and mainly invisible.


Years of neglect made the effect of the pandemic so much worse. One example of that neglect was the PPE shortage that emerged when the pandemic hit.

Another is the fragmented nature of care services for the elderly and vulnerable – where staff frequently experience low pay, insecure employment and impossible workloads to manage.


In our NHS a shortage of nurses and other key staff means there are fewer people to look after patients.

This is the result of more than 10 years of spending cuts and austerity. The damage to all the vital services that make our communities strong and resilient, including schools, policing and local government, is plain to see.


Despite all this, key workers in our public services pulled through for all of us.

As we begin to return to normal, it’s crucial for all of us that the same mistakes aren’t made again, and we don’t return to undervaluing our public services and the people who provide them.


This autumn, politicians in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont will be making important decisions about the future funding of our public services


Early signs suggest the UK government wants to pitch the public sector against private sector and will ignore long term structural problems that got us to where we are now.


That’s why we’re calling for measures now to:


REBUILD…

Rebuild all our public services, by securing long term investment and making money available to employ and train the number of staff that are needed to ensure our services are there when you need them.


CREATE…

Create fairer and safer workplaces with proper risk assessments. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. Disabled workers and other vulnerable groups need to have the right to work from home whilst the risk of COVID-19 persists.


PAY…

Give public sector workers a decent pay rise because the pandemic has shown how important they are. This would also help the lowest paid out of in-work poverty.


BUILD…

Build a fairer and greener post COVID-19 society, in which the inequalities that have become so evident during the crisis are addressed as a matter of urgency.


Find out more about our campaign and how you can get involved here.

https://www.unison-scotland.org/no-going-back-to-normal-4/

Don’t stay on mute


‘You’re on mute!’ Is a frequent cry during online meetings.

#Don’tStayonMute campaign aims to reassure people who are suffering from anxiety or uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is to remind them they are not alone and that there is support available.

https://youtu.be/x0-DH6nOw5w

We hope the message: ‘it’s OK not to be OK and to speak to someone to get help’ will resonate with the thousands of workers across Scotland still working remotely or in isolation as the country remains in Phase 3 of the route map out of the pandemic .


Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “The COVID pandemic has changed everything about everything. These are difficult times and it’s OK not to be Ok about that. UNISON reps know how you feel as they are going through it too. Our key message is don’t struggle alone. Contact your trade union or human resources team if you are having difficulties. We are here to help you.”

https://youtu.be/x0-DH6nOw5w


Employee Assistance Programme

Falkirk council have an employee assistance Programme

Talking to a counsellor or an adviser can help understand a problem, try a different approach or just learn how to cope with a situation that we can't change.


The confidential Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) aims to help you find your own solution to whatever is worrying you.


Making contact

You can contact the Employee Assistance Helpline 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. The helpline offers counselling and advice on a variety of personal, family or workplace issues.

The service is provided by a professional organisation, Wellbeing Solutions Management and there is no cost to you.


Calls are confidential.

0800 171 2181

Alternatively, you can book a telephone appointment online:

www.employeeassistance.org.uk

Login with access code: Falkirk

The website also provides a wide range of online resources and tools to help with personal, work and family issues.

Emotional support

If you would like the support of a counsellor, you can arrange a telephone counselling session at a time to suit you. Your counsellor may recommend further counselling sessions to help you overcome a more troubling issue.


Practical advice

If you need professional advice or factual information on any legal, money, health, work or personal issue, you can arrange for a free telephone consultation with a specialist adviser.


Confidentiality

The EAP is a confidential and anonymous service provided by an independent organisation. No personal or identifying information is communicated to your employer.

Only in the most extreme and unusual circumstances would your confidentiality and anonymity ever be broken, for example, if our clinical professionals considered that you may be a significant danger to yourself or others around you. In these circumstances, you would be informed when this happens.

General Secretary Election

Members will be aware that UNISON is in the process of electing a new General Secretary following Dave Prentis's retiral on 31st December 2020. There are currently 4 candidates who have made it onto the ballot paper. At time of printing these are Paul Holmes, Christina McEnea, Roger McKenzie and Hugo Pierre.

Whoever you chose to vote for when your ballot paper arrives in about a month is your choice, historically votes returned are very low so we would ask that you do take the time to cast your vote.

For your information your Branch Committee has nominated Roger McKenzie as we believe he is the best candidate to take UNISON forward . Here is the statement we have posted on our website :-

Roger has plans to bring our union closer to members and branches like ours.

Roger's campaign has set out how together we can build a strong, powerful union that represents all workers delivering public services, stands up for members and ensures social justice is at the heart of our union.

Roger has said that he will support members tacking action over pay, terms and conditions, health and safety and fight to stop local employers and the U.K. Government using the public health crisis as an excuse to attack workers.

Pensions changes

Pension found to be discriminatory – UNISON’s plan to fix it

A little bit of background

Following recent legal challenges, the Pension scheme was found to be discriminatory on age.

The McCloud judgement refers to the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Government’s 2015 public sector pension reforms unlawfully treated existing public sectors differently based upon members’ age on the 1 April 2012.

The judgement came after two Employment Tribunals concerning the pensions of Judges’ (McCloud) and Firefighters’ (Sargeant) respectively.


The key content of the judgment said: “We have found that in both the judges’ and firefighters’ cases the manner in which the transitional provisions have been implemented has given rise to unlawful direct age discrimination.”

The original ruling was made by the Court of Appeal in December 2018. However, this was appealed by the Government. The Government’s appeal was rejected in July 2019 and the cases were remitted to Employment Tribunal remedy hearings.


It is important to note that it is the protection arrangements based upon members’ number of years to normal pension age that were found to be unlawful. Introducing new schemes for existing staff has not been found to be unlawful.


The fix

16 July 2020 UK government launches formal consultation 2020-21 Consultation concluded and McCloud included in valuation costs.

The proposals set the 1st March 2022 as the end of the remedy period and sees April 2022 bringing an end of age discrimination, with all active members moved to reformed schemes. Further details on the government’s proposals can be found on our web site.

UNISON will be responding to the consolation and we will keep you updated with developments.



Black Workers & Covid – New UNISON report


Indications are that Black workers are over four times more likely to die from Covid19 than white people. Of the first 100 deaths in frontline health and care jobs around 70% were Black, Asian or minority ethnic workers.

UNISON Scotland has paid particular attention to the views of the Black workers who responded to the recent UNISON survey of health and social care staff.

The results are stark – revealing a workforce that is in more fragile employment and in a less secure position than their white counterparts.
Black Workers are as a result, less likely to raise safety concerns and are more fearful of infection than other workers.

The full report can be found here: https://www.unison-scotland.org/black-workers-covid-structural-inequality-risk-new-unison-scotland-report/


UNISON is calling for urgent action from both the Scottish and UK governments to recognise the increased risk of infection and death, reassure Black workers that action will be taken and commit to a series of urgent interventions under a rolling Covid-19 Race Equality Action Plan.


In UNISON, Black is used to indicate people with a shared history.
Black with a capital ‘B’ is used in its broad political and inclusive sense to describe people in Britain that have suffered colonialism and enslavement in the past and continue to experience racism and diminished opportunities in today’s society.

UNISON welcome the participation of our Black Members and there is currently a vacancy on the branch committee for a Black Members Officer. If you are interested in getting involved in UNISON as a black member then get in touch with the branch.


To find out more on UNISON Scotland’s black members committee see the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/USBMCNetwork/



Branch holds Virtual Meetings using webinars

It will take more than a pandemic to stop UNISON from engaging with our members. We are a member led branch and empower members to engage and consult with the branch.


COVID has understandably led to the introduction of measures that stop union meetings in the workplace. To offset this UNISON organised a series of virtual meetings or webinars with members across several sectors.

Please keep an eye on our communications. The branch intends to run future virtual workplace meetings with members across other services and will be back in touch as we get these meetings set up. UNISON is keen to continue to engage and consult with members during COVID-19.


If you and your fellow UNISON members would like to set up a meeting with the branch either regarding change, H&S or just for a general update, then please get in touch and we would be happy to arrange


Test and Protect app Launched

The test and protect is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other, reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns.

Head to https://protect.scot to find out how it works and how to download to your phone.

Downloading the app is a personal choice but the app will be more effective if communities use it.



Branch social media

Are you following the branch on Social Media?

The branch has the following accounts on social media for updating members. Be sure to like or follow us

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/falkirkcouncilunison/

Webpage

https://www.unisonfalkirk.org.uk/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/falkirkunison?lang=en


Not received your newsletter by email?

Update you contact details.

If you have provided your e-mail as a means of keeping you updated, you should be receiving updates from UNISON locally and nationally. If you are not head to https://registration.unison.org.uk/registrationstep1.aspx and update your contact details and contact preferences using MYUNISON.


Also, you can contact the branch to update your details.

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