Solidarity with Tower Hamlets UNISON Strikers

Tower Hamlets Council Workers Strike against attack on Terms and Conditions 3rd, 6th and 7th July

Tower Hamlets Strike PosterOn 3rd, 6th & 7th July, workers for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets will be striking against the imposition of “Tower Rewards”. Their council is seeking to sack 4,000 council workers and remploy them on a new contract with much worse conditions. This is the thanks essential public service workers get during a pandemic! Our colleagues in Tower Hamlets UNISON branch  have published the details on Facebook here.

Show Solidarity – Join the Virtual Picket Line

Tower Hamlets UNISON are holding  online rallies / virtual picket lines at 11.30am on each strike day. We urge Southend members to join the ‘virtual’ pickets and show our solidarity with our colleagues – we all face the same attacks!    You can ‘book’ your place the pickets on Eventbrite here. 


Have Your Say On Pay!

Council and Schools Pay Deal – Make up your mind on ‘final offer’

The national employers in local government have made what they say is their ‘final offer’ on the 2020 pay deal. If you work in the council or schools (or other groups who get the ‘NJC’ pay rise), UNISON is arranging for all members to take part in a ballot on this offer. Southend branch will soon be sending out information about how you can vote.

Find out about the employers’ offer – make up your mind whether or not to accept it: You can find information about the ‘offer’ on the national UNISON website here.

2020 pay photos

Have we got your contact details?

If you want to have your say, we need to make sure we have up to date contact details for you. You can update your details online at My Unison

Peoples Assembly Online Rally 7th May

The Fight for our lives

Mass online rally from 6:30pm Thursday 7th May organised by the People’s assembly:

The Government’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis has cost thousands of lives. The People’s Assembly will be hosting a huge online platform for campaigns to voice their demands to meet this emergency and for a better life after the crisis.
We will be broadcasting across a large number of social media platforms so there is the potential for an audience of thousands, a social media takeover.

Watch live from the People’s Assembly Facebook Page on Thursday from 6:30pm:

Peoples Assembly rally lineup

Here are a few things you can do to help us make this as big as possible:

1. Share the event:

Use your 500 invites on Facebook. Don’t be shy!

2. Post on social media:

Here is some sample copy you might want to use:

Join the Fight for our Lives rally on Thursday 6.30pm. More than 50 organisations representing millions of people are coming together to take over social media platforms by streaming an online rally to demand universal testing, tracking, PPE and no return to austerity.  Key Workers, so crucial to our society deserve a pay rise, better conditions and recognition for their contribution. We will not be made to pay for this health crisis that has been so badly managed by this Government.

3. Use the graphics in this email. You can find them here on our resource page.

4. Let’s get trending on social media during the online Rally using #HealthBeforeWealth 

Domestic Abuse and Covid-19

Domestic Abuse and Covid-19 – advice and support from the TUC

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) groups together all the UK’s trade unions. Their Education team have produced this advice on the threat posed by domestic abuse as we all face lockdown and isolation.

TUC header

The physical workplace can be a place of safety for those experiencing domestic abuse. Now, with stringent social distancing measures in place, that option may be gone.

In only the first weekend of UK lockdown, visits to the national abuse website increased by 150%. Domestic abuse has always been an issue for reps to engage with, but we need you to do this now more than ever.

That’s why today we are launching new guidance on what reps can do to ensure women and their children stay safe during this time. Please take a  look  at our new online domestic abuse guidance for reps

If you or anyone you know may have been affected by domestic abuse, the guidance contains information on how you can seek help.

For further resources on coronavirus, check out our recordings of our recent Coronavirus at Work webinars and our new guidance for unions.

28th April – Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living

International Workers’ Memorial Day Tuesday 28th April-   Join the minute’s silence at 11am

IWMS Selfie PosterEach year, trade unionists across the world mark all those who have lost their lives at work.
This year, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic makes this occasion more poignant than ever. The deaths of key workers in the crisis are avoidable and we must demand that they are all protected. We must make sure we mark this day despite the restrictions we are all under.
UNISON, along with other trade unions and organisations, is calling on all our members to join in a  minute’s silence at 11am Tuesday, 28th April.

What you can do
Whether you are at your workplace, are working from home, retired or perhaps self-isolating, you can still join in on the day:

  • Take a ‘selfie’ with our poster (or perhaps make your own)
  • Post it on your preferred social media and tag us – #unisonsouthend and #iwmd2020
  • You can also email your photo to and we will put together an album for our website and Facebook page
  • If you will be in work, why not do a group selfie with your colleagues and encourage other UNISON members (and non-members) to take part? (keep a safe distance)
  • In central Southend, UNISON is arranging a ‘socially-distanced’ event on the steps of the Civic Centre at 11am so that we can have a collective (but safe!) meeting in memory of those who have lost their lives. If you work in the Civic Centre area or live nearby, please join us if you can
  • In the evening, UNISON’s Assistant General Secretary, Roger Mackenzie, will be one of the speakers at an online ‘Stand Up To Racism’ meeting, addressing why so many Covid-19 deaths have been of BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people, particularly in the health and care sectors. The meeting will be livestreamed at 7pm on the Facebook page for Stand Up To Racism.


One of the slogans for International Workers’ Memorial Day has always been ‘Remember the Dead but Fight for the Living’. That idea has never been more relevant as we have seen health’ care and other key workers losing their lives, in the UK and around the world. We all join in the #clapforcarers but we need to fight for them, not just thank them.

We want to make sure we demand the things which will help protect frontline workers who continue to be at risk. That means giving a clear message that they all need the right level of PPE and access to testing, so they can be safe at work and help keep the rest of us healthy. These things have been too long in coming and standards have been sacrificed. So, we will be saying PPE Now! If you post online, use the hashtag #PPEnow .

Many of our members work for Southend Council and we expect the Council to support the minute’s silence. Ask your employer to allow everyone to join the minute’s silence and let UNISON know if they won’t!

Join the minute’s silence for Covid-19 dead 28th April

Remember COVID-19 dead this International Workers’ Memorial Day

IWMD will give us the chance to remember the workers who have died because of COVID-19

Tuesday 28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day, when we remember all those who have died because of their work – and renew our pledge to fight for the living.

In the year of coronavirus, this day of commemoration has never been more important. And that is why UNISON is asking the country to observe a minute’s silence, to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have already lost their lives to COVID-19.

The campaign for a minute’s silence at 11am next Tuesday was launched earlier this week by UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, which collectively represent more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said it would be “the ultimate tribute to remember workers who’ve lost their lives and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and vital services running.

“Every year, the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic.

“Thousands of key staff are on the frontline while the rest of us are in lockdown. That’s why we’ve issued this call for the whole country to take part and remember the sacrifices they’ve made. The best tribute we can all pay them is to stay inside to protect the NHS.”

Thousands of workers across the UK are caring for those suffering from COVID-19 or delivering vital public services that are vital for us all – potentially putting their own safety and even their own lives at risk.

In many cases, these workers know that, by simply doing their jobs, they are putting themselves at risk.

The risks faced by those working in the health and social care sectors has already been acknowledged, but there are also others – those working in childcare, police services and refuse collection, in hostels and rescue centres, in gas, water and electricity, and in transport services among them – whose work and dedication often goes unacknowledged.

Tragically, some of these workers have already died. In some cases, more could have been done to protect them, whether by better enforcement of social distancing, looking after workers with underlying health conditions or provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe.

While improvements have been seen in some areas, more needs to be done – specifically in relation to assessing the risks our members are facing and ensuring that all staff who require it are getting the protective equipment needed to do the job safely.

UNISON has never been afraid to demand the highest standards for workers; we have not been afraid to speak out and hold the government to account on providing the right PPE when staff need it, and to hold employers to account who are not doing enough to keep their workers safe.

All of this adds to the importance of observing a minutes’ silence at 11am next Tuesday.

But other things that you can do include:

  • tweeting us, @unisontheunion, your pictures of public service workers, whether of yourself, your colleagues or even those you may not personally know, continuing to do the jobs that are keeping us all safe – although don’t go out especially to get these;
  • if you are having a problem getting the PPE you need to keep you safe, let us know here;
  • email any other COVID-19 safety related issues to

Schools – Don’t forget about Support Staff!

Letter to Government – Don’t Forget about Schools Support Staff on the Crisis!

To: Gavin Williamson
Secretary of State for Education

Dear Secretary of State,

Support Staff and the Coronavirus

As National Secretary of Education at UNISON, I am writing to you to raise concerns about the current support and advice that is being offered to school support staff and other education support workers during the Coronavirus crisis.
Following your letter which was issued last week to Heads and Teachers, we are deeply concerned that this guidance is not clear or relatable to many other key workers who work in schools.
In the background, UNISON has been working closely with civil servants in the Department for Education to try to ensure that guidance being issued from the DfE works for all staff. We havestruggled at times to get our message across, but I recognise that they are very busy and
trying their best. In the circumstances UNISON has taken a pragmatic approach and not sought to undermine the Government at this time of crisis.
Sadly, far too many messages have excluded 50% of the workforce – school support staff and other education support workers. This was reflected in a speech you gave last week praising the contributions of heads and teachers and which you have now re-iterated in your letter to them.
You are right they are crucial – but so are support staff. In many schools and local authority hubs most staff working are support staff. Other schools are being totally run by heads and support staff. Support staff are putting themselves at risk by working directly with pupils, many of whom will have parents carrying out key worker roles which increases their risks of
exposure to the virus.
The most vulnerable pupils still in school usually respond best to their teaching assistants, and the nature of the care provided often means social distancing between support staff and pupils is impossible to implement, particularly in SEND settings.
We still await guidance around the use of PPE which the DfE has said it will provide. We know that there are videos on the use of PPE for NHS staff that explain what PPE is necessary inwhat situations and we believe this advice should be made widely available.
Many support staff have volunteered to ive up their Easter holidays, yet there has been no guidance on how this will work from your department and there are other issues that specifically affect support staff that have not been addressed.
Finally, I note that you have regularly spoken to Heads and teachers’ unions – but again not support staff representatives. UNISON’s top priority throughout has been, and will continue to be, to work jointly to support schools and their staff in their leading role in the fight against this
pandemic. In these circumstances we believe our different perspective should also be considered.
I would welcome your thoughts on why you and your department have so far ignored school and other education support staff and their  representatives and what can be done to address this.
Support staff are now questioning whether we are all in it together after all.
Yours sincerely
Jon Richards
National Secretary

National Advice for Schools Workers

National UNISON Covid-19 Advice for Schools Workers-

UNISON has now provided updated information for schools workers on the national website.  This can be found here.

You can also download UNISON’s Frequently Asked Questions for Schools Workers in England as a pdf here.

If you have further questions or need UNISON’s advice on your situation or the situation in your school, please contact Southend Branch on or by phone on 01702 215980 (leave a message).