COVID Workforce Issues Update
Schools Reopening Guidance
The Scottish Government guidance for the phased re-opening of schools, as announced by the First Minister today, has now been published and can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-schools-reopening
Annual General Meetings 2021.
Information can be found on http://www.clacksunison.org.uk/?page_id=444
UNISON Scotland has been lobbying Government and seeking negotiated agreements for homeworking expenses to be paid as allowances via payroll. We have not made any significant headway in any sector on early agreement and payments on this basis. So without prejudice to UNISON’s ongoing efforts to secure collective agreements with Employers, we are issuing information to allow you to make an individual claim to HMRC for tax relief for these new expenses incurred for business during this tax year which ends 31 March 2021.
Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. They do not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, such as mortgage interest, rent or council tax.
You may also be able to claim tax relief on equipment you’ve bought, such as a laptop, chair or mobile phone.How much you can claim
You can either claim tax relief on:
- £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
- the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount – you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts
You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).
To claim these expenses, you need a Government Gateway user ID and password. You can create a user ID if you do not already have one.
Creating a Government Gateway ID usually takes about 10 minutes. It works best if you have:
- your National Insurance number
- a recent payslip or P60 or a valid UK passport
Please see below and cascade this information your members who are working from home.
New General Secretary Christina McAnea
I promise to work across all parts of our union, for all our members.
Click download link above
No Going Back to Normal – OUR KEY WORKERS DESERVE BETTER
Thousands of key workers died during the pandemic looking after us.
In the public services nurses, care workers, cleaners and more made the ultimate sacrifice to help others.
This was all the more heart-breaking because, for years before COVID-19, these public service workers have been undervalued, underpaid and mainly invisible.
Years of neglect made the effect of the pandemic so much worse. One example of that neglect was the PPE shortage that emerged when the pandemic hit.
Another is the fragmented nature of care services for the elderly and vulnerable – where staff frequently experience low pay, insecure employment and impossible workloads to manage.
In our NHS a shortage of nurses and other key staff means there are fewer people to look after patients.
This is the result of more than 10 years of spending cuts and austerity. The damage to all the vital services that make our communities strong and resilient, including schools, policing and local government, is plain to see.
Despite all this, key workers in our public services stepped up for all of us.
As we begin to return to normal, it’s crucial for all of us that the same mistakes aren’t made again, and we don’t return to undervaluing our public services and the people who provide them.
This autumn, politicians in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont will be making important decisions about the future funding of our public services.
Early signs suggest that the UK government wants to pitch the public sector against the private sector and will ignore the long term structural problems that got us to where we are now.
That’s why we’re calling for measures now to:
Rebuild all of our public services, by securing long term investment and making money available to employ and train the number of staff that are needed to ensure that essential services are there when you need them.
Create fairer and safer workplaces with proper risk assessments and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Disabled workers and other vulnerable groups need to have the right to work from home whilst the risk of COVID-19 persists.
Give public sector workers a decent pay rise because the pandemic has shown how important they are. This would also help the lowest paid to get out of in-work poverty.
Build a fairer and greener post COVID-19 society, in which the inequalities that have become so evident during the crisis are addressed as a matter of urgency.
Find out more about our campaign and how you can get involved here:
Don’t stay on mute
‘You’re on mute!’ Is a frequent cry during online meetings.
#Don’tStayonMute campaign aims to reassure people who are suffering from anxiety or uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is to remind them they are not alone and that there is support available.
We hope the message: ‘it’s OK not to be OK and to speak to someone to get help’ will resonate with the thousands of workers across Scotland still working remotely or in isolation as the country remains in Phase 3 of the route map out of the pandemic .
Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “The COVID pandemic has changed everything about everything. These are difficult times and it’s OK not to be OK about that. UNISON reps know how you feel as they are going through it too. Our key message is don’t struggle alone. Contact your trade union or human resources team if you are having difficulties. We are here to help you.”
Cleaners and janitors survey
In August 2020 UNISON stewards started to receive a high volume of concerns from our members in the Cleaning Service about health and safety issues related to Covid 19 and the measures put in place to deal with it. Many of our members seemed unaware of the guidance produced by Clackmannanshire Council, the additional measures put in place or the updated risk assessments for each of the Council buildings.
To ascertain the extent of the problem we contacted our members who worked within this service and asked them to fill in a brief survey.
The results of the Survey are:
1. Do you work in a school?
2. Do you have adequate access to Personal Protective Equipment? e.g. Facemask, Gloves etc
3. Did your manager have a conversation with you, or send you information to explain the new safety measures at your workplace for dealing with Covid 19?
4. Do you know what is expected of you at work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
5. Do you have adequate time to carry out the tasks you are expected to do?
It seems clear that many our members within the Cleaning Service have had little or no contact with their management team and are missing key information for them to do their job safely. Of particular concern is the low percentage of staff that have been provided with the risk assessments for their workplace.
It is imperative that every member of staff has access to the current risk assessments for their place of work, that they have received all relevant information about how to carry out their work safely and that they are provided with the correct items of PPE. It is also important for the safety of all users of Council buildings that they are cleaned thoroughly and in line with current guidance. If cleaners and janitorial staff are unaware of what is expected of them and have not seen the building risk assessments, then it is unlikely that the buildings are being cleaned correctly at this time.
We take cognisance of recent efforts to improve communication with cleaning staff and the management team, however it is now urgent for all staff to be contacted immediately and all relevant guidance and documentation provided so that they are safe and so they can help to ensure the safety of everyone accessing a council premises.
Black Workers & Covid – New UNISON report
Indications are that Black workers are over four times more likely to die from Covid 19 than white people. Of the first 100 deaths in frontline health and care jobs around 70% were Black, Asian or minority ethnic workers.
UNISON Scotland has paid particular attention to the views of the Black workers who responded to the recent UNISON survey of health and social care staff.
The results are stark – revealing a workforce that is in more fragile employment and in a less secure position than their white counterparts.
Black Workers are as a result, less likely to raise safety concerns and are more fearful of infection than other workers.
The full report can be found here: https://www.unison-scotland.org/black-workers-covid-structural-inequality-risk-new-unison-scotland-report/
UNISON is calling for urgent action from both the Scottish and UK governments to recognise the increased risk of infection and death, reassure Black workers that action will be taken and commit to a series of urgent interventions under a rolling Covid-19 Race Equality Action Plan.
In UNISON, Black is used to indicate people with a shared history.
Black with a capital ‘B’ is used in its broad political and inclusive sense to describe people in Britain that have suffered colonialism and enslavement in the past and continue to experience racism and diminished opportunities in today’s society.
UNISON welcome the participation of our Black Members and there is currently a vacancy on the branch committee for a Black Members Officer. If you are interested in getting involved in UNISON as a black member then get in touch with the branch.
To find out more on UNISON Scotland’s black members committee see the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/USBMCNetwork/
Test and Protect app Launched
The test and protect is a free mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other, reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns.
Head to https://protect.scot to find out how it works and how to download to your phone.
Downloading the app is a personal choice but the app will be more effective if communities use it.
Branch social media
Are you following the branch on Social Media?
The branch has the following accounts on social media for updating members. Be sure to like or follow us.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT WASTE INCINERATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
UNISON is committed to campaigning to stop Climate change and have an Environment group that leads on this. Did you know that impacts of climate change such as Heatwaves, Cold Snaps and Flooding will impact Scotland’s lowest paid workers the worst?
Clackmannanshire UNISON branch are concerned by new incinerators under construction in Scotland, two of which are in our neighbouring authorities Fife, near Loch Leven and Falkirk, Grangemouth. We have engaged with political parties to outline our concerns.
Check out the article we did about this and see why the branch feels it’s a poor investment of public money and a worse deal for the environment.
Keep an eye on the webpage and our social media channels for future updates.
Not received your newsletter by email?
Update you contact details.
If you have provided your e-mail as a means of keeping you updated, you should be receiving updates from UNISON locally and nationally. If you are not, head to https://registration.unison.org.uk/registrationstep1.aspx and update your contact details and contact preferences using MYUNISON.
Also, you can contact the branch to update your details.
UNISON Clackmannanshire Council
Email us at – firstname.lastname@example.org
PPE Not Promises!!!
Click here for resources http://msg.unison.org.uk/c/11b5yTNm0XVMwGQoj27aV
All the details of events and how to book can be found on the West Midlands regional website – https://westmidlands.unison.org.uk/home/black-history-month/
Tickets will go fast, and what’s even better they are all FREE!
Just go to the schedule of events to book – https://westmidlands.unison.org.uk/home/black-history-month/
Have a good day and stay safe
UNISON represents public sector staff.
We negotiate for better pay and conditions, help individuals in trouble and campaign for a safer, fairer society.
UNISON is Britain’s biggest union, representing almost 1.3 million people across the UK’s public services.
COVID Workforce Issues Update
Recovery Guidance for Public Libraries
The public libraries recovery guidance has now been published. Please note that safer workplace planning in public libraries must align with wider local authority planning. This is also the case for contracted arm’s length external organisations (ALEOs), as the statutory responsibility for libraries remains with the local authority. This will ensure consistency of mitigation measures across the library service and other local authority services.
You can view the guidance here:
Scottish Government Occupational risk assessment guidance
The Scottish Government has today published occupational risk assessment to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is relevant to all staff, but will be particularly relevant to those who are returning to work after shielding, those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.
The guidance was developed using the latest clinical evidence that sets out best practice on risk assessment for COVID-19 as an easy to follow tool and it will be kept under review as more is learnt about COVID-19 in Scotland.
Employers have a legal responsibility to keep their staff safe and promote their wellbeing – this guidance is supposed to assist that. They also have important duties under equalities legislation, and should make reasonable adjustments to support workers with disabilities. Employers should continue to follow public health and sector-specific advice, and where possible, home working should continue.
After a workplace risk assessment has been undertaken and measures to reduce the risk of transmission have been put in place, staff and their managers are being encouraged to use the risk assessment tool to identify the individual’s vulnerability level.
You can read the risk assessment guidance here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-individual-risk-assessment-for-the-workplace/
Covid-19: Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery – June 2020
The independent group advising the Scottish Government on post-Covid 19 economic recovery reported on
22 June. The group was led by Benny Higgins, former CEO of Tesco Bank.
The group had been asked to recommend solutions:
to ensure transition towards a greener, net zero and wellbeing economy, and;
to address the challenges faced by different sectors of the economy in recovering from the
This briefing provides a summary of the recommendations. Some of these are in line with the calls made by
UNISON in its submission to the Advisory Group, which you can read in full here.
The Advisory Group’s full 77 page report is available here. The Scottish Government will publish its
response to the report by the end of July 2020.
INTERNATIONAL WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY
On 28th April every year Trade Unions around the world hold events to remember the dead and fight for the living.In Clackmannanshire Trade Union Officials, Senior Council Officers and Elected Members gather at the memorial stone in front of the Council Headquarters and say a few words to mark the event and to lay wreathes. Unfortunately this year we have had to forgo holding our usual memorial gathering, however we will be marking the event with a minutes silence at 11am for key workers who have lost their lives during Covid-19. A moment to remember those who have sadly lost their lives at work over the past year; to pay tribute to the sacrifice of so many workers during the pandemic; and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great personal risk.Council members of staff continue to provide crucial public services and have stepped up to help even more people who have become isolated during this difficult time. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of staff for everything that they have done and continue to do during this very difficult time. We would invite everyone to take part in the minutes silence whether they are in their workplace or at home. If you use social media we would also invite you to add a purple twibbon to your profile image for the day. https://twibbon.com/Support/intl-workers-memorial-day/
Updated Advice on PPE from the UK Government
Please on this link – Updated PPE Advice
UNISON Clackmannanshire Branch – Covid 19 update.
During this very difficult time for public Services UNISON has been working flat out to ensure that steps taken by employers are reasonable and fair to employee’s.
Our officers and officials have been lobbying politicians at all levels of government and have been working with national bodies to agree some fair principles and make sure your interests are being met. At the local level our branch officers have been working with the Council’s senior managers and Incident Management Team for the past few weeks and have been dealing with a very large amount of queries from members. We’ve tried to respond directly to questions where we could, and if a more general point was being made then we’ve tried to make sure managers have answered these questions during staff cascades and briefings.
We know that this is a very challenging time for all staff and that there is a great deal of concern for our safety and that of our friends and families. We hope that you are all staying safe and following all guidance that has been issued. UNISON will be publishing some communications and an FAQ shortly.
At this time it is no longer feasible to maintain the office in Bank Street in Alloa and so as of today this office is closed until further notice. This will limit our ability somewhat to deal with enquiries so we would like to ask all members to use our email address if they wish to contact us for any reason. The email address is email@example.com
As many of you will no longer be at your place of work it will make getting information to you directly more difficult as well so we would encourage you all to visit our website where we will publish all the relevant information we can.
Please take care of yourselves and if you have any questions or concerns get above at the email address above.
Annual General Meeting
Thursday the 27th of February 2020
Alloa Elim Church 12:00 til 2:00
(The Elim Church is on Greenside Street next door to the Patons building )
The Clackmannanshire Branch of UNISON would like to invite you to join us at our 2020 AGM
For those attending there will be a lunch provided from 12:00
Our local branch is always on look out for new stewards and this is perfect time of year to join up.
Becoming a UNISON steward is a rewarding experience and it comes with training, a chance to develop new skills and the time off from your workplace to carry out the duties of a Trade Union representative. We would encourage you to consider becoming a new steward, especially if there is not currently a representative in your own area of work.
Our speaker this year is still to be confirmed