Branch Circular: Covid-19 Update #7

Hopefully the levels of Covid-19 deaths and new infections will continue to decline but it is at a much slower rate than most of Europe and the relaxation of measures without apparently reaching the Government’s own threshold risks a second wave. The ineptness of the Government is shown in almost all it touches.

The Government’s incompetence in responding to the Covid-19 crisis, which undoubtedly led to a greater level of deaths, has been repeatedly masked with a mantra of they were acting in accordance with ‘the science’. But we have now seen Boris Johnson preventing scientists from answering questions at a press conference, and recently at some daily conferences scientists have not even been present. Increasingly it appears that the Government only follows ‘science’ partially and only when it suits their purpose.

We have seen a catastrophe in our care homes, an abandonment of test and trace at the outset and then rather than use established local authority and health organisations to belatedly carry out test and tracing the contract was given to a private company with a poor track record, without even a tender.

Similarly, the much-vaunted app pilot in the Isle of Wight to be rolled out nationally was also given to a private company. The Manchester Nightingale Hospital at GMEX was set up giving all the support services to Interserve a private company which is on the rocks and which refused to pay cleaners and porters NHS national pay rates. Ministers wear the NHS badge at press conferences whilst continually privatising any part of the NHS it can. Add in the Dominic Cummings fiasco and it is unsurprising most people do not trust this Government.

There has been mention of Treasury papers proposing a return to austerity and pay freezes for public workers. The Government praise key workers whilst behind the scenes increase privatisations to drive down their terms and conditions. It is in that context that the consultation soon to start on the Local Government pay offer is so important.

UNISON will be making the case that our members deserve fair pay and our Branch agreed to recommend rejection of the offer. We need to put pressure on the Government at a time when there is good public support for the services we provide. This circular covers just some of the work the Branch is doing across our services and employers in representing members. Our membership is increasing but we need to strengthen our density as much as possible to best represent members in the challenges ahead.

Evelyn Doyle
Manchester UNISON Branch Secretary


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