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No Going Back To Unsafe Schools – socially distant protest Monday 1 June, 5.30pm Hunter Street steps to the Brunswick Centre, WC1N 1BS

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Following on from the meeting we had online yesterday and a number of meetings we have had with UNISON members working in different schools, we have a couple of things you may be able to get involved with.

No Going Back To Unsafe Schools – socially distant protest

Monday 1 June, 5.30pm

Hunter Street steps to the Brunswick Centre, WC1N 1BS

 

Protesting is very difficult at the moment, and we have generally kept to online meetings. However, the government has pushed hard for schools to take in more children from next week and here in Camden the response has been varied. We have said that the council should join other councils in saying none of the schools should increase their numbers as there is no test, trace and track system in place in the community, and that schools have not been able to be made safe enough not to risk the children, staff and wider community. This risk is increased now that the government has said people can meet up to 6 others outdoors.

Unfortunately, Camden hasn’t done this, and schools are making their own decisions about increasing numbers. Although some have said they aren’t doing this yet, and are looking at how they can make the schools as safe as possible, seeing what the testing system shows over the next week or two, some schools are saying they will have more children in next week, and we do not believe all of them have adequately prepared for this. We are outlining with our members in those schools what they can do, and that they have the full support of our branch, but there are a couple of things other UNISON members can do to support them.

If you live within reasonable walking/cycling distance of the Brunswick Centre, please come along to our socially distanced protest at 5.30pm on Monday – do NOT use public transport to come. We are trying to make a point without increasing risk! We will be meeting on the steps on Hunter St (near the cinema) where there is plenty of room to stand spaced apart. In particular if you work in a school or are a parent/grandparent it would be great if you can safely make it.

Sign the online letter

If you cannot make Monday afternoon, the please do sign the online letter – the link is below. We are asking every member to do this as it’s for people who live or work in Camden:

 

https://forms.gle/2q8nKYpa5GtENHKc7

If you work in a school and do not believe that a proper risk assessment has been completed or that it is not safe for staff to work there with increased numbers of children, appended below is a letter that you can complete outlining why it’s unsafe and why therefore you will not be attending work. It’s also designed so you can ask other staff in your school to sign with you. If you want to discuss if this is what you should do in your school, please contact me or Hugo Pierre at unison@camden.gov.uk as soon as possible.

Letter for school staff :

Dear ***********
re: Health and Safety
I am writing, on behalf of the signatories to this letter, to inform you that, in order for members of your staff to protect themselves and/or other persons from danger, the staff named below will not be attending [name of school/college] to work there at present. They will continue to be available to work from home.
Since the government announced its decision to extend the opening of schools the impact that has in terms of the health and safety of pupils, staff and the community has been widely discussed. The mere fact of an increase in the number of pupils and staff attending school poses an increased risk. The Independent Sage group has said the risk could be reduced by as much as 50% if wider reopening was delayed until the 15 June.
UNISON along with the other TUC education unions, outlined a set of tests to be met nationally and locally before it could be deemed safe for schools to open more widely. These tests have been set with a view to safely increasing pupil numbers. UNISON does not believe these tests have been met in full. Most specifically, UNISON does not believe that a robust test, track and isolate system is demonstrably in place either nationally or locally. Independent scientific advice concurs with UNISON’s view that wider opening on 1 June is not safe.
We believe that not attending work in the current circumstances is an appropriate step for us to take for the following reasons:
  1. The dangers that are preventing us from attending work are the risk of contracting coronavirus and or spreading coronavirus to others.
  2. The person(s) we are seeking to protect are ourselves, our families, our pupils, their families, our colleagues, their families and members of the public.
  3.  We believe that this danger is serious because coronavirus infection is potentially fatal and has already resulted in more than 37,000 deaths in the UK. In addition, some of those listed below have personal circumstances that mean the potential impact on them contracting Covid19 is even more dangerous.
  4. We believe that, if we were to attend work, the danger would be imminent because we don’t believe that your plans for 1 June comply in full with the joint unions’ checklist – available here for primary schools and here for special schools. [delete checklist as appropriate]
    In particular, the following measures have not been implemented or adequately implemented
    [add here the elements where the school has not complied with the checklist or else attach a copy of your completed checklist indicating the areas of non-compliance]
In addition: –
  • Staff journeys to work involve using public transport, where they would be in very close proximity to many other people, some of whom may be infected and or carrying the virus.
  • Our risk of exposure to Covid19 cannot be reduced to an acceptable level.
    5.      We will be happy to return to the workplace when it is safe to do so,                for  example if the following measures have been put into place:
  • UNISON’s and the other TUC education unions’ tests have been met nationally and locally.
  • The joint union checklist has been complied with in full and all measures put in place.
In the meantime, we are all, of course, willing to carry out any of our duties, or other alternative duties at our current grades, that can reasonably be undertaken from home.
I would be grateful if you would arrange to meet with myself and other union reps to discuss these issues further.
 Yours sincerely,
[Name of rep]
[List of members]

 

 

 

Stay safe, stay in touch,

 

Liz

 

Liz Wheatley

Branch Secretary

Camden UNISON

London Borough of Camden

 

Telephone: 020 7974 1633

Web: http://www.camdenunison.org.uk

UNISON Office

3rd floor Crowndale Centre

218 Eversholt Street

London NW1 1BD

 

 

 

 

 

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No Return To Unsafe Schools

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May Day: Remember The Dead, Fight For The Living

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Union online Meeting Thursday 30 April at 1pm

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28 April is Workers’ Memorial Day

CamUnisonWMD2020Tuesday 28 April is Workers’ Memorial Day. UNISON and the TUC have called for a minute’s silence at 11am. In Camden, we are asking all of our members to join us in an online UNISON meeting from 10.50-11.05am on Tuesday so that we can observe the silence together. Paid time off for Council employees has been agreed. It’s more important than ever that we both remember the dead and fight for the living.

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

Telephone:   020 7974 1633
Web:             www.camdenunison.org.uk

UNISON Office
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD

 

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Message of support from Camden UNISON to health workers in the borough

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Dear Camden NHS workers,

We are writing to you on behalf of UNISON members in Camden Council – we represent social workers and care workers, school staff, library workers, housing workers and many more, most of whom are part of the fight against the spread of coronavirus and providing services and support to vulnerable members of our community. However, you are all in the front line of that fight, and we want to offer our solidarity and support to you. Many of our members have taken part in the ‘Clap for our Carers’ events the last two weeks, but we want and need to do more.

As a trade union branch, we are committed to the NHS and its invaluable workforce, even more so as we all face the threat of COVID-19 and the devastation it is causing to our community. We are particularly concerned to hear that many NHS staff in hospitals are still not receiving proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to both protect them and ultimately us from infection. There also appears to be a lack of clear guidance on its most effective use. In addition, all reports we hear are that there is still very little testing of NHS staff to see if they are able to work safely.

We believe that it is essential the government urgently increases the supply of PPE in hospitals and for social care, and ensure that staff are trained in safely using it. We also believe that mass testing, starting with all NHS staff from cleaner to consultant, is an urgent priority. We will be campaigning for this, but please let us know if there are other things we can raise for you.

Again, thank you for all that you do,

 

Liz Wheatley (Branch Secretary) and Phoebe Watkins (Branch Chair)

On behalf of Camden UNISON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camden Unison Retired Members AGM Report

We held our Annual General meeting was on 4 March 2020 .The Secretary, Chair and Committee Members for 2020/21 were elected and matters arising from the Annual Report were discussed. A date was agreed for the next committee meeting, but this had to be cancelled due to the Corona Virus pandemic. At the end of the meeting one of the delegates read a paper she had written about women’s contribution to the development of the Trade Union movement.

Some Retired Members also attended the Branch AGM, which took place later on the same day.

If you want to get involved in Camden UNISON Retired Members group, please email unison@camden.gov.uk

Paula, RM Secretary

 

Can you help Camden UNISON?

Can you help Camden UNISON?
 
As we have been making sure your concerns have been addressed by your employers, some of you have realised how important it is to have a steward! So a number of members have said that they would like to become a steward in the last couple of weeks. Would you be able to do that too? It’s been really clear at the moment that having a local steward who can raise issues (and often manages to get them sorted too) and distribute information has made a real difference to members, so if you would like to do this, or want to find out what it involves, just email us at unison@camden.gov.uk and we’ll be in touch.

Camden UNISON Branch Meeting – on Zoom Thurs 2 April, 1pm
 
We’re going to have a go at getting stuck into the modern world and have a meeting for Camden UNISON members using Zoom to discuss what’s happening at the moment, what we need to raise on your behalf, what the problems of working from home are and what we can do about them, and anything else relevant that you think of.
 
The meeting is on Thursday 2 April (ie this Thurs) at 1pm. Details of how to join the meeting are in the email sent out to you on 31/03/20. Obviously, it’s our first time of doing this – hopefully it’ll work but bear with us if it doesn’t, we’ll work it out and have another go!
 
It would also help if you have any specific questions that you email them in advance to unison@camden.gov.uk so that we can try to make sure we have answers and group together the similar ones. It would be brilliant if you have your videos on so that we can see each other too!

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

Telephone:   020 7974 1633
Web:             www.camdenunison.org.uk

UNISON Office
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD

 

CAMDEN UNISON SAYS

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CAMDEN UNISON SAYS

                                   Test, test, test

                                           PPE

                         Keep key workers virus free

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Tests for the NHS

PPE for the NHS

Boris: Fund the NHS

Solidarity with NHS Workers – Thursdays, 8pm
 
Although lots of us are having to change how we work and what we are doing, our fellow UNISON members in the NHS are facing the most difficult time ever, made worse by years of underfunding and privatisation.
 
Last week it was excellent when millions came to stand on their doorsteps and balconies, or at their windows to collectively clap for the NHS. This is going to be a regular event each week. However, great though the clapping was, they need more than that, and so attached is a window/door poster saying, Camden UNISON says Clap for the NHS, Tests for the NHS, PPE for the NHS, Boris: Fund the NHS.

Please chant when clapping:

                                  Test, test, test

                                           PPE

                         Keep key workers virus free


 
If you have a printer at home, it would be great if you can run it off and display it. But if you haven’t got a printer, why not just draw one with the slogans (and rainbow if you or your kids need a home-schooling art project!) and display that too. Like last week, it would be ace if you can video the clapping, and maybe take photos of where you’ve displayed the poster. If you email them in to unison@camden.gov.uk we’ll be sending them to the Camden UNISON Health branches.

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

Telephone:   020 7974 1633
Web:             www.camdenunison.org.uk

UNISON Office
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD

 

CAMDEN COUNCIL MEMBERS Working From Home

By now, the vast majority of you will be working at home. Lots of the important work can be done online (and I think a big shout out to our IT members, we know it’s been full on for you as hundreds of us work from home for the first time!) so make sure that you are not coming into the office unnecessarily. If you are asked/instructed to come into an office, check with your manager if it’s really needed, and let us know. You shouldn’t be coming in for the sake of it, but some of the essential work can only be done from a Council building.

If you aren’t used to working from home, it can be quite isolating. There are some good ideas on Essentials to help, but do make sure you keep in touch with colleagues, and that you also take regular breaks – don’t let your home become just your office. It’s easy to feel there’s ‘no escape’ from work and the people wanting help (and another shout out to our members in Contact Camden, we know you’re getting inundated with calls, mostly about CV19) so look at options that can help your wellbeing.

Self-Isolating, Showing Symptoms, Caring

Because of how CV19 can spread, it’s really important you follow the advice if you have an underlying condition, have any symptoms or are a carer or have children at home. Again, Essentials has been really clear on what to do in all of these circumstances, including how to enter information on Oracle (which is important you do so that up to date numbers of who can/can’t do the essential roles are available).

You won’t lose money if you are self-isolating or advised to stay at home due to your symptoms, and in both cases may be able to work from home. If you cannot and are sick due to CV19, this will not trigger any action or loss of pay. If you have caring responsibilities or children at home because of the school closures, speak to your manager – you may be able to work different hours or a similar arrangement. If you are having difficulty working this out then get in touch with your rep or email unison@camden.gov.uk

Helping with Essential Services

Some members have already been asked to help with important services to support vulnerable families and older residents by doing things like making up food parcels. Lots of this kind of thing is going to be needed over the next few weeks and more, so you will be asked to do different work to your everyday roles, in particular if you have a job where working from home is limited.

For these roles, guidelines about doing the work safely are being (and in some cases have already been) drawn up so that there is as little risk as possible to you. Some of these services will involve PPE, and you should get information about how to use that correctly. Again, you will not lose any pay. If you are worried about what you are being asked to do – eg if you have any of the listed underlying health conditions but are still being asked to travel rather than work from home, contact your local rep or email unison@camden.gov.uk

Shielding Group

If you are in the ‘shielding needed’ group and have been written to, then let your manager know – again, it is important that you are recorded as such so that Camden knows who is able to help out in different ways.

PPE, Health and Safety

Whilst you are doing all of this, it’s important you are as safe as possible. Some of the roles you already do, or will be asked to do require PPE. Check this with your manager, and if you are unsure contact us. There is a national shortage of things like hand sanitiser and wipes, Camden has centralised their supplies and is distributing them to specific services – social workers for when visits can’t be avoided, caretakers and others doing similar roles where hand washing is more difficult to access – so let us know if you haven’t got what’s needed.

I hope that this is helpful information, you can also find more on the national UNISON website, but if you have any queries, please email us.

And don’t forget to show your support for our NHS workers tonight!

Liz

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
Telephone:   020 7974 1633
Web:             
www.camdenunison.org.uk

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