Branch Circular: Covid-19 Update #6

Many of us will have watched on Sunday night the much built up televised statement by the Prime Minister who was supposed to outline the way forward for the nation in this Covid crisis. What we got took the government gross incompetence in how it has responded in this crisis to new depths.

Aside from the now normal confusing and unclear blather and waffle the only concrete elements of the broadcast only showed how utterly inept and dangerous this government has become. Boris Johnson called for an immediate return to work the next day for all those who cannot work at home when Government guidance on how workplaces could be made safer was not publicly released or even made available to employers or trade unions until Tuesday.

He also said those he called on to return to work should avoid using public transport. Four out of every five low paid workers are employed in roles that cannot be carried out at home. They overwhelmingly rely most on public transport to get to and from their place of work. These are the people Johnson said should be encouraged to return to work without any notice, preparation or assurances never mind guarantees about their safety at work.

Government ‘guidance’ is so vague that most Tory ministers do not know when asked what it means and Tory MPs use the Mantra they are not part of the Government so cannot be expected to understand the guidance. But somehow workers who are putting their lives on the line are expected to understand and trust what abysmally passes for Government guidance.

The shameful actions and lack of transparency of this Tory Government is nothing short of a scandal. We have seen daily Government televised briefings throughout this crisis which included graphs showing the level of new cases of infection and sadly deaths internationally.

What does the Government do when it is clear their failure to effectively deal with the crisis means the UK have the highest death rates in Europe?

Scrap the graphs.

The Government’s incompetence will not be hidden so easily and they must be held accountable. In the same pre-recorded televised statement we were also told some school age groups will return to school on 1st June with other age groups doing so later.

This despite there being no agreement with teaching unions, the national headteachers or our union who represent school support staff. Their joint position is not to engage in any arrangements for a return on 1st June without an agreement.

Our branch will support all our school members on any developments as this situation unfolds.

It has been reported that privately the Treasury have looked at freezing public sector pay for two years to pay for their utter mismanagement of the Covid crisis.

So much for an end to austerity.

If these proposals ever see the light of day it will only further highlight the appalling hypocrisy of the Tory Government praising key workers, clapping for heroes on a Thursday whilst apparently plotting to cut their pay in real terms.

Should the government dare go down this road UNISON together with every other public sector trade union will fight any attempt to attack public sector pay using all possible means.

Week in and week out our branch continues to assist and represent our members as best as we can.The greater our trade union membership numbers are and the higher our density among employers the stronger our voice will be.

If you know any worker not in a union please point out there has rarely been a more important time to be in a trade union.

Evelyn Doyle
Manchester UNISON Branch Secretary


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