The last seven weeks have seen the country on full lockdown due to Covid-19. Whilst we may be ‘past the peak’ of the pandemic, the number of daily cases and deaths is still worryingly high.
The region’s priorities remain to protect the health and wellbeing of our members, their colleagues and families, and to support our members working on the front line of this global pandemic.
As more UNISON members are being expected to return to work over the coming weeks and months, we must be able to offer urgent support to worried members, and to work with employers across all sectors to ensure that the safety of workers is paramount.
Over recent weeks, UNISON has mourned the loss of several members and activists to Covid-19. Many members and activists have been redeployed to frontline work and are unable to participate in UNISON activities. Despite the government’s push to return to work, we are still a long way from ‘business as usual’.
We have discussed this situation at length and are now proposing the following actions:
- All routine regional committees, sub-committees and working groups will continue to be suspended until 30 June 2020. Committee secretaries and chairs will continue to work closely together during this time to facilitate any urgent decision making. Urgent decisions which need to be made before 30 June will be conducted using the region’s protocol for decision making between meetings.
- All regional activist education and member learning courses are cancelled for the same period. The number of online courses has been increased over recent weeks and will continue to be added to.
- The region recently trialed a series of informal digital forums, for branches to share their experiences during lockdown. As workplaces now begin to come out of lockdown, we will facilitate more opportunities for branches to come together in a digital format. We recognise there will be a need for additional meetings of some groups; for example, Local Govt branches to consider urgent matters such as the NJC pay offer.
We must continue to be vigilant with supporting members and activists during the coming months. UNISON’s advice for negotiating with employers is being updated constantly. If you have concerns about the measures your employer is taking to keep staff safe, please raise these with your branch and your branch’s regional organiser.
The above measures will be kept under review by the four of us who continue to meet every week and update activists and members as the situation develops.
If there’s anything that you need additional help or assistance with, please let us know.
Mark Chiverton, Rosita Ellis & Billie Reynolds
Regional Convenor, Deputy Regional Convenors