Southend UNISON’s February 2021 branch newsletter is available for download here.
- Covid Health and Safety Advice
- Redeployment Rights
- National Women’s Event
- General Secretary Election Results
- Southend Council Cuts
Covid-19 – Schools and Early Years Mass Meeting:
UNISON is holding a mass national on-line meeting for schools and early years members in England on Wednesday 27 January at 5pm. We will talk through the issues facing schools and early years workers right now and will be answering members’ questions throughout the meeting.
Southend UNISON urges our members in schools and early years to attend this meeting.
The meeting is on-line and you can find details, including of how to join up on the national website here.
The latest Covid advice can be found here.
-Keep Early Years Safe and Funded
After the chaos of the return to school after Xmas, primary and secondary schools are now closed to all but vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers. However the ‘Early Years’ sector including nurseries, is still fully open despite the impact on transmission of the Covid virus.
UNISON and the NEU have set up a petition to demand that Early Years is restricted like all other areas of education and that the government fund the sector properly until it is safe for them to open fully again.
#makeEYsafe #makeearlyearssafe #protectcommunities
Important – National January Advice for Schools
This advice applies to all primary schools, special schools, SEND and early years settings in England.
- In UNISON’s view, it is unsafe for you to attend the workplace at present if your school is fully opened to all pupils.
- Our advice is that you should decide to advise your head teacher or employer that you will not be attending the workplace but will be available to work remotely from home or only being in school supporting provision and the learning of key worker and vulnerable children if necessary.
- Here is a letter for to send to your head teacher or employer:
Your model letter
- When sending this letter, you will also be asserting your legal right to be protected against any detrimental action by your employer, including to your pay. This right is explained in full in the model letter.
- Our advice applies for at least the first two weeks of term, the same period for which secondary schools and some primary schools have already been instructed by the government to move to remote learning.
- UNISON is issuing this advice after careful consideration of the advice which was apparently given to the government by the SAGE advisory group and the current position on infection rates.
Safety in schools
- We understand that SAGE has advised the Government that schools should move to remote learning in order to help reduce the rate of spread of the COVID-19 virus.
- The advice given by SAGE has only been adopted in relation to secondary schools and to primary schools in some Tier 4 areas. Given the overall increase in infection rates, however, we believe it is unsafe for schools to reopen in any area at present.
- Infection rates are far higher than at the end of last term. This increase has been promoted by the new variant of the COVID-19 virus which was not properly understood at that time. These developments mean, in our view, that the risk assessments in place in schools at the end of last term cannot now be relied on by employers to demonstrate that workplaces are safe in these changed circumstances. We are calling on all employers in all schools, whatever age group they serve and whatever the local tier of restrictions, to review their risk assessments and safety measures before asking employees to return to the workplace.
Face to face provision
- We accept that schools may need to provide face to face provision for vulnerable students and the children of key workers and are also expected to open for some exam groups.
- This should happen after risk assessments have been reviewed and appropriate measures taken to ensure safety, including for necessary social distancing and limits on group sizes.
- We are advising members that they should agree to make themselves available to attend the workplace to support these students on a rota basis. The model letter you can send to your headteacher/employer makes clear you are making yourself available to work from home or to support with this limited in-school provision.
Petition to make schools safe and protect communities
- Along with the teachers’ union, the NEU, we have launched a public petition calling on the government to use this period of remote learning to establish how quickly the new variant of the virus is transmitted, and to establish measures to keep schools more “COVID secure”.
Sign the petition
- UNISON’s national schools committee meets on Monday 4 January to decide next steps and we will keep you updated via email. Please also follow our Facebook page for the latest information.
- In the meantime, please use the model letter to notify your head teacher or principal of your position.
If you have any issues concerning Covid in your school, the advice above or any other concern, contact the UNISON branch at email@example.com
Local Government Redundancy Benefits Under Attack-
Are you in the Local Government Pension Scheme? – We need your help to lobby Government by Friday! :
- Your payments and pension on redundancy are under immediate threat!
- We have until this Friday 18th December to respond to the government
- Every member can help – Download the model letter here
- Add your details and email the letter to LGExitPay@communities.gov.uk (you will get an email saying the consultation is closed but as long as you’ve replied by 18th December it will count!)
- Let UNISON know you’ve responded
The government are adding more changes to their ‘pension cap’ policy which will cut both redundancy pay and any early pension you are entitled to in the case of redundancy. This will not just affect the highest-paid but potentially every pension scheme member. The employer is making you go early – and you’re then being penalised for all your long service and years of pension contributions!
Their original policy penalised you if your redundancy pay plus the employer’s payment to support your pension came to £95k (even that limit affected many low-paid members) but now they’re going even further so most people will lose out.
This will condemn even more workers to lower benefits just when they are older and will find it harder to find a job at all, let alone with decent pay and conditions. It’s being rushed through at a time when government cuts are leading to job cuts across councils.
These are our rights – it’s in your terms and conditions that you get more than the legal minimum in redundancy pay and we’ve all spent years paying in to the pension scheme which helps protect our pension income if our employer makes us redundant.
A Happy and Safe Xmas to all UNISON Members!
Southend UNISON’s December newsletter is now out!
News and articles including:
- Covid Support Fund
- Health and Safety
- Fighting for Jobs at Southend Council
- Public sector Pay
Download your copy here!
Is there a topic you’d like to see us cover in our branch newsletter – or perhaps you’d like to write us a letter or write an article on your issues?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas!
Have You Used Your Vote? –
Your completed ballot paper in the election for the next General Secretary of UNISON must be posted in time to reach our independent election service (CES) by 5pm on 28th November!
If you haven’t got your ballot paper in the post to your home address yet, if you’ve lost your paper, or if something is missing from the pack you’ve received you can call UNISON’s national helpline on 0800 0 857 857 between now and the 20th November.
You can find our latest branch newsletter with the details here.
It’s important that you use your vote and have your say and it’s important for our union’s democracy that we have as high a turnout as possible from all our members.
There is more information about the election on UNISON’s national website.
Schools and the ‘Second Lockdown’ – action needed for staff and student safety!
If you work in a school or have school-age children, UNISON believes urgent actions are needed over and above current government policy to support suppressing Covid 19 in our community and to safeguard staff, students and families.
If you have concerns about your school, or want help and support implementing safe working, contact UNISON at email@example.com
UNISON’s national Schools Committee believes that to help bring the national rate of infection down, to ensure the safety of pupils, staff and the community, and to prevent further damaging ad hoc closures, schools and nurseries should instead return to the position of the first lockdown – open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
To ensure effective home learning, the government should urgently fund all necessary equipment for pupils that need it, so that high quality education can continue. We are firmly committed to getting pupils and staff safely back into schools once national infection rates are under control.
In the meantime, we believe the following safety steps should be implemented immediately:
- Reduce risks by maximising social distancing and implement existing
contingency plans for reduced class sizes and home learning (schools alreadyhave these plans in plans in place).
- Reduce bubble sizes and introduce rotas to reduce risks.
- Staff remaining within one bubble; so reducing the risk of spread across the
- Moving whole bubbles to home learning where a pupil or member of staff
develops coronavirus symptoms or receives a positive test.
- Ensure that all school staff have priority access to the test and trace system.
Require all pupils and staff to wear face coverings while at school (including
classrooms) as is policy in other countries e.g. France. Clear face masks to
be made available so that pupils and staff who need to read lips are not
disadvantaged. There should be exemptions for pupils and staff who cannot
wear face coverings.
- Move all clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), clinically vulnerable (CV), staff over 60 and pregnant staff (3rd trimester) to home working as they are at the highest risk from becoming seriously ill if they catch the virus. CEV and CVstaff who cannot work from home to stay at home on full pay.
Individual risk assessments for staff in other higher risk groups, such as Black staff, older male staff and those with weight issues, who are at increased risk of adverse outcomes if they contract the virus. Staff identified as being at particular risk should also be allowed to work from home.
- Permit and encourage staff (and pupils aged 16 and over) to use the NHS
COVID app in school, including classrooms, as per DfE guidance.
- Stronger measures on school transport and at the school gates to stop
mixing, ensure social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.
- Increase funding to schools to cover the increased costs of cleaning
You can read our statement in full here.
Download Southend UNISON’s October 2020 Newsletter:
- General Secretary election
- Local Government Redundancy Robbery
- National Care Service