Coronavirus Update – Friday 15th May 2020

The following statement went out as an email to all members on Friday 20th May 2020.
Dear UNISON Members,
I wrote to you earlier this week, setting out how we intended to proceed as a branch after the change of position from the Government.
Fundamentally, we pledged to be guided by you, in how we tackled issues such as the proposed re-opening of schools and nurseries, the request for some staff to come back into the workplace and the ongoing support needed for those who have worked continuously throughout lockdown or who will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
That is the approach we have taken and will continue to take. It is the only way we can get this right.
It will come as no surprise to members, that the biggest challenge that has arisen this week has been responding to plans to re-open schools on 1st June. All evidence shows – locally and nationally – that parents are just as concerned about this as the trade unions are. My own son’s school did a survey and over two thirds of parents stated that they did not wish to send their children back until at least September. When asked what was the important factor is helping them to feel they were making the right decision for their children, the largest group of parents responded to say “the views of staff and leadership at the school”.
We know that your service users trust you, whether they are school children or vulnerable adults. Therefore, we will support our members in schools – and other workplaces – to keep themselves safe, by whatever means they feel are necessary – up to and including refusing to place themselves in harm’s way. We have requested a statement from the political leadership of the Council that they will support us in this.
Most employers have been willing to engage with us to determine the best ways forward. Where that hasn’t happened, we have been as challenging as you would expect us to be.
Please join our all-members Zoom meeting next week. (Further details on the meeting are contained in the email).
Thanks, Steve
Steve North
Branch Secretary