Corona Virus: Barnet UNISON update
As the Corona (Corvid-19) virus has spread it has become the main issue of concern in our workplaces.
The main responsibility for dealing with the virus lies with the UK Government and national and regional agencies. But Barnet UNISON believes, along with the rest of the Trade Union movement, that unions and employers, working together, can make a significant difference to ensure that the effects of the outbreak are minimised.
Over the last few weeks Barnet UNISON have been trying to engage with Barnet Council about the Corona Virus. We want to work with the Council in a cooperative way to inform and protect our members, other colleagues and the public, so that measures taken in response to the virus are appropriate, sufficient, and fairly applied. We also believe that working this way will help prevent irresponsible behaviour and panic.
UNISON members have raised their concerns with us on obtaining information on the level of risk, the lack of precautionary measure such as sanitisers at some work sites, and the repercussions of not being at work because of illness, self-isolation or other result of the outbreak.
The Council have been relaying information from the Government, the NHS and Public Health England on the intranet or through work emails, but not all Barnet workers have easy access to these, and are missing important communications. Further guidance specific to our workplaces is also needed.
The Council have tried to supply sanitisers and wipes, but they have informed that we problems with supply of these items have proved a major obstacle. At a service and local level some mangers and staff have been procuring items for the protection of colleagues, but UNISON hold that these should have been planned for and provided at the Council Corporate level before now.
In response to our members concerns we have raised a number of issues with the Council. These include
- Guidance and information
- Provision of protectionary items and procedures
- Risk Assessments
- Specific arrangements for colleagues at greater risk from the virus such as those over 65 or those with underlying health problems.
- Procedures for Council buildings open to the public
- Actions to take at worksites if people with confirmed cases of the virus have visited or worked there.
- Procedures for Home visits to service users
- Sick Leave
- Working from home
- Absence reporting
- Service cover for high levels of absence
- School closures and child care responsibilities
- Appraisal targets and deadlines
At the time of writing we still await a full response from the Council and but have been informed that the issues will be discussed at meeting next week. Barnet UNISON welcome this but such discussion and information should have already been provided. But we hope that this signals the Council’s willingness to truly engage with UNISON and the other trade unions in protecting the health of our colleagues and the public.
In the meantime please use the following links to get further information on the Corona Virus.
If you have concerns or questions please contact your local UNISON reps, or the Branch at
The Corona virus requires a collective response. Acting together to protect ourselves is the cornerstone of trade unionism. Working together and looking out for our colleagues, friends, family, service users and the wider community will be a major factor in reducing the damage caused by the virus. Selfish individualist actions, such as panic buying, profiteering on in-demand items or stealing sanitisers from work places threaten all of us, including those committing these acts.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
Branch Health & Safety Officer/Libraries Convenor
Tel: 0208 359 2088