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Energy companies exposing staff to unnecessary Covid risks, says UNISON
The UK’s leading energy suppliers - including many of the big six companies - are needlessly forcing staff to enter up to 80 homes a day each during the pandemic to take meter readings, says UNISON today (Friday).
The union is calling on the government to intervene and class meter reading as non-essential work, if the companies fail to suspend these visits.
Despite cases falling nationally thanks to the vaccine rollout, millions of adults are yet to receive their first dose, so in-home meter readings create an unacceptable risk of the virus spreading, says UNISON.
Of the dozens of energy suppliers, only British Gas has stopped in-home readings in England and Wales. The Scottish government has already recognised the clear risk to both employees and homeowners and stopped readings until further notice, says UNISON.
UNISON’s national officer for energy Matthew Lay said: “The government must put people before profit. It’s the height of folly to class meter reading as an essential activity in the midst of a pandemic, with highly contagious mutations emerging regularly.
“Meter readers enter dozens of homes each day, often in enclosed spaces. They’ve experienced homeowners standing over their shoulders, refusing to put on masks, and some have only been informed after entering premises that the family is isolating.
“People can often simply do the readings themselves, so continuing with home visits is a recipe for disaster. Meter readings for all suppliers need to be suspended now.”
Notes to editors:
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
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Council budgets: Carmarthenshire and Swansea
Unison wants Carmarthenshire council to halt cuts to services, Carms branch sec, Mark Evans and City and County of Swansea branch sec, Chris Cooze, quoted South Wales Guardian. The same article appeared in the South Wales Evening Post.
The leader of Ceredigion County Council was wrong to talk publicly about cutting jobs before speaking directly to employees, according to UNISON Cymru Wales.
BETSI CADWALADAR: STAFF REACTION AS HEALTH BOARD COMES OUT OF SPECIAL MEASURES
UNISON staff representatives at Betsi Cadwaladr have praised the efforts of healthcare workers as central to transforming the working culture at the Health Board.
Yesterday, the Health Minister announced Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCU) would come out of five years of special measures.
In that time, UNISON took a pro-active approach to working in partnership with the health board in pushing for change and its North Wales health branch has spoken of its pride in the dedication of local healthcare workers.
Jan Tomlinson, UNISON branch secretary said,
“This decision is a vindication of the hard work of every single healthcare employee at Betsi.
“The last five years haven’t always been easy but UNISON immediately decided to be as closely involved as possible in turning round a health board seen as failing. We needed to put the staff’s point of view at the heart of strategic decisions and senior executives needed to hear the employees’ ideas for change.
“We had an overwhelming response when we asked healthcare workers to complete UNISON’s questionnaire about what they would change and this has helped lead improvements. Staff highlighted how better communication was a priority and restoring people’s pride in working for BCU.
“I would like to praise the professionalism and care of staff who have worked tirelessly in partnership to see BCU be taken out of special measures.
“Healthcare staff have embraced change and we are delivering the best care for all patients and the community.
“Well done to all staff of every grade; you have all played your part. We as a Branch couldn’t be prouder of you and applaud each and every one of you.”
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97
The Cymru Wales Committee agreed on 21 September to nominate Christina McAnea for the General secretary election for the following reasons: Christina is the woman to lead the UK’s largest union. She has the influence, profile and experience on the national stage and understands devolution. A tough negotiator, determined campaigner and no nonsense communicator, Christina will stand up for public services in Wales and across the UK. […]
Christina McAnea says pandemic has highlighted need for urgent reform
JOBS CUT THREATENS ACCESS TO CARDIFF LEISURE SERVICES
A decision by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to cut 35 full-time jobs across Cardiff leisure services will damage people’s access to sports centres and the quality of service provided, UNISON Cymru Wales has said.
Emma Garson, UNISON Cardiff County branch secretary said,
“Everyone appreciates how leisure services have been affected by the pandemic but that doesn’t mean local people have given up on their sports centres and swimming pools.
“Perhaps more than ever, Cardiff residents will need quality leisure services as they emerge from Coronavirus lockdown for the good of their mental and physical health.
“Staff are devastated, they love their jobs and what they provide to the local community.
“When leisure services were privatised in 2016, UNISON warned they would no longer be run principally for the public good. We said without the council’s democratic control, local people would be denied a say in how leisure centres are operated.
“It’s essential Cardiff doesn’t fail a whole generation of children and local communities by worsening their access to leisure centres. UNISON has called on the council to urgently intervene and guarantee funding to safeguard jobs and ensure service quality is not reduced for local people.”
UNISON recognises the tremendous support Welsh government has provided councils during this pandemic, amounting to an additional half a billion pounds of funding and it is essential councils are able to access and channel some of these resources to support our vital leisure services.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97
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UNISON Cymru Wales
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Windrush deportations must stop now, says UNISON
Commenting on the departure of the government’s deportation flight to Jamaica UNISON assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie today (Wednesday) said:
“It’s deeply worrying that people who’ve lived in the UK since childhood are being deported to countries they don’t know.
“This shows the government’s learned nothing from the Windrush scandal and is intent on ploughing ahead with its shabby hostile environment agenda.
"Deportation flights must stop now and a proper investigation launched into this cruel and disproportionate punishment.”
Notes to editors
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.
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Media officer, UNISON (the UK’s biggest union)
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M: 07432 741565
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Help for EU nationals in Welsh public services
UNISON Cymru Wales’ courses last week in Abergele and Cardiff were reported on Friday morning’s BBC Wales TV news and Pembrokeshire branch chairManuela Hughes was interviewed by the Western Mail (full page article published on Saturday – ‘Many don’t understand trauma and stress to get settled status’). Please see attached. Well done Manuela.
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The true scale of almost a decade of savage austerity cuts to local communities in the Wales is laid bare in a study published by UNISON today, showing the impact of huge reductions in council funding. A series of freedom of information (FOI) requests to local authorities in Wales examined the changes in local services […]
HELP OFFERED TO FOREIGN NATIONALS WORKING IN WELSH PUBLIC SERVICES
European nationals working in Wales as carers, healthcare assistants and school support staff amongst others are to be offered assistance by Wales’ biggest trade union in processing their applications to remain in the UK after Brexit.
UNISON Cymru Wales has linked-up with charity Settled, to pilot training on how trade union representatives might best support and guide EU citizens who may be struggling with their application to the UK Government’s Settlement Scheme.
This week, training courses – the first of their kind anywhere in the UK – are being held in UNISON offices in Abergele and Cardiff and it is hoped similar events will be rolled-out across Wales.
The trade union has repeatedly underlined the contribution of foreign nationals working in Welsh public services and says they face an increasingly hostile environment during the Brexit transition.
The idea is for UNISON representatives in workplaces across Wales to become ‘Settled Status Angels’ who could assist people and signpost complex cases to organisations with the relevant experience.
German-born Manuela Hughes has lived in the UK since 1992. She is employed as a special unit leader in an autism centre in a Pembrokeshire secondary school and has just secured Settled Status. Manuela said,
“The whole process of applying to remain in the UK is confusing, frustrating and traumatic and could put people off pursuing what is their right. That’s why it’s so good an organisation the size of UNISON has made a commitment to offer support to Welsh public service workers caught up in this.
“Home Office decisions on right to remain seem arbitrary and there are horrible cases of families being split-up when children and dependant relatives have been denied Settled Status.
“My Settled Status has just been confirmed but there’s no certificate or paperwork that’s legally binding. I worry if a future government chooses to move the goal-posts, the UK will be looking at another Windrush scandal where people who have worked and built lives here are pressurised to leave.”
Tanya Palmer, UNISON regional secretary said,
“You only need to visit your doctor’s surgery, a local hospital, or school to see EU nationals are working hard in public service and caring for our communities. They have enriched our culture and now it is time to help them.
“We are leaving the EU and it is important these public servants are treated with dignity and assisted if they wish to remain in Wales. UNISON wants to provide assistance where we can and we will continue to raise awareness of their plight with employers and Welsh government.”
Notes for editors
- Settled is a charitable arm of campaign group the3million which aims to give a voice to the three million EU citizens in the UK
- There are many reasons why people may find it difficult to engage with the Settled Status application process or are worried to do so. This can include difficulty with providing or accessing documents, not having the means or the skill to make an online application and difficulty in understanding the language of the application process, or living in circumstances where making an application could impact on other issues of concern, such as being homeless or a victim of domestic abuse.
- The Welsh Government has provided funding to Settled to appoint a “Settled Status Angel Coordinator” operating across Wales. The coordinator will provide free accredited training and resources to both individuals and groups.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 53 83 97
Mike Leigh’s historical adviser talks about the research that informs the recounting of the 18th century pro-democracy rally that ended in tragedy