The last twelve weeks have seen the country on lockdown due to Covid-19. Restrictions are beginning to lift in many areas. However, it remains the case that ‘business as usual’ is still some way off in almost all sections of society.
The region’s priorities throughout this crisis have been to protect the health and wellbeing of our members, their colleagues and families, and to support members working on the front line of this global pandemic. As more UNISON members are returning to work, we continue to offer urgent support to concerned members and to work with employers across all sectors to ensure that the safety and equality of workers is prioritised.
In the wake of the awful killing of George Floyd and growth in the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been aiming to amplify the voices of Black members and activists across the region who wish to speak out. We continue to support initiatives from Hope Not Hate, Show Racism the Red Card, and other anti-racist groups. Our union is committed to combating the rise of the far-right and the politics of hate wherever they arise.
All committee members in the region were invited to share their views on when and if we should resume regional meetings earlier in June. The feedback from this has helped inform the development of new Access Standards for online meetings and clarified the areas where an increased engagement with committee members is most wanted.
The Regional Convenors Team and Regional Secretary continue to monitor the situation every week to consider what the impact of the pandemic will be on our regional activities. The following has been agreed for now until the end of August 2020:
- A Covid-19 focussed online meeting of the Regional Committee will take place on 14 July.
- Regional Service Group committees chairs are considering their requirements and whether or not a meeting of their committee is necessary.
- Where there is an urgent need for any other regional committee to meet, to discuss Covid-19 related issues – and where these cannot be dealt with in any other way – Committee Secretaries and Chairs have been advised of the process for requesting an online meeting.
- All other routine regional events, committees, sub-committees and working groups are suspended until 31 August 2020.
- Committee Secretaries and Chairs will continue to work closely during this time to facilitate any urgent decision making by following the Regional protocol on delegated decisions.
- All face-to-face regional activist education and member learning courses have also been cancelled. However, we have and will continue to increase the number of online courses.
- We recognise there will be a need for a special meeting of some groups; for example, Local Govt branches to consider urgent matters such as the latest NJC pay offer.
The above measures will be regularly reviewed, and you will be updated as the situation develops.
We must continue to be vigilant with supporting members and activists during this uncertain time. UNISON’s advice for negotiating with employers is updated continuously. 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 Organiser.
Mark Chiverton, Rosita Ellis & Billie Reynolds
Regional Convenor, Deputy Regional Convenors