Covid-19: Advice for branches

As you know we are in unprecedented times and the impact the Coronavirus is having on members, their families and on the services they provide is changing daily. Most universities have now moved to online lectures and tutor sessions, most councils are asking staff to work from home where they can, except for essential services and whilst the situation is very different in the NHS, most routine services are ceasing whilst NHS staff prepare to deal with the increasing patients with the virus.

In response UNISON staff are also having to change how we work. As of tomorrow our Regional Office will be going down to a skeleton staff with most staff working from home. We are implementing systems to ensure that we can still respond to branch and member queries.

In addition:-

• All Regional Meetings, events and training courses have been postponed to ensure we are following the government advice regarding essential travel. Our democratic structures will continue to operate, but with new ways of working which maximise use of digital technology. This will be reviewed at the end of April but may be in place until at least the end of May, in line with public health advice

• We are contacting the main employers in the region, through the appropriate regional bodies to seek region wide agreement to postpone all ‘routine’ grievance and disciplinaries where possible. We are also contacting the major private contractor employers seeking the same agreement.

• Branches that employ staff, should follow your main employers advice regarding them attending work – if that includes working from home, processes should be put in place to ensure that they can access any calls for the branch and re-direct to activists and officers as appropriate.

• Please ensure that regular contact is kept with stewards and activists, to ensure their wellbeing but also to ensure a system of call referrals is in place, so members can still receive advice.

• Please refer to the excellent guidance (which is regularly updated) regarding the impact of Coronavirus on your members

Your Regional Organiser will be in regular contact with you over the coming weeks to provide support, check in with you and also so you can update them on any developments within your branch.

As you know our members rely on you as the Branch Secretary and on us as a union to support them during these difficult times. We will continue to do our utmost to work with you in supporting our members to deliver the vital public services that London relies on and which will be so desperately needed in the next couple of months.

Maggi Ferncombe
Regional Secretary