It is not enough to applaud on a Thursday night. They must be properly rewarded and their worth recognised
With this in mind UNISON has so far launched campaigns in local government, health and higher education.
The campaign for local government workers, delivering vital services during COVID-19 crisis, calls on Scottish Government and COSLA to recognise the financial and emotional toll on the workforce.
UNISON is also calling for sustained long term investment to protect jobs, deliver a reduction in wage inequalities and for local government workers to be engaged in shaping the lockdown legacy.
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Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government said: “We need to discuss pay and conditions but only sustained long term investment will protect jobs and deliver a lockdown legacy that reduces wage inequalities – that is what UNISON’s plan will deliver.”
Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON’s local government committee said: “Local government workers have responded heroically to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis – providing support to the most vulnerable members of our communities, looking after the children of key workers, collecting our refuse and manning temporary body storage facilities for the deceased (to name but a few examples).
“Their extraordinary efforts and the critical value of the roles they perform deserve to be rewarded and they need to be part of shaping the future of local services.”
Meantime, UNISON has submitted a pay claim to the staff side of the NHS Scotland terms and conditions committee on Tuesday asking the Scottish Government to recognise the extra costs – both financial and emotional – that NHS staff have suffered through this pandemic.
The pay claim is for 1% or £500, whatever is highest, for all staff. The claim is on top of any annual pay increase for NHS staff. This payment is to go some way to support NHS staff with the extra costs they have incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland’s head of health, said: “This is a very difficult time for so many across Scotland, not least our dedicated NHS staff who quite rightly have received the highest praise from the public.
“Health service workers received the lowest public sector pay award over last few years. It is important that we recognise this and we are calling on the Scottish Government to support them financially to help them get through this very difficult time.”
Tom Waterson, chair of the health committee said: “While pay is down the list of priorities of NHS staff at the moment, the reality is that they are incurring extra costs – sometimes having to buy extra PPE; extra cleaning of their clothes and materials; buying hand sanitiser; isolating from family; doing extra hours; and additional travel costs during restricted public transport – never mind the emotional toll it is having.
“Our NHS staff are going above and beyond to look after us in this time of national crisis, it is only right the Scottish Government look at how they can financially support NHS staff through this difficult period.”
UNISON in higher education is calling on all members to write to their MPs asking them to press the UK government for an urgent financial injection, to give the sector a fighting chance of coming out of this crisis; and to demand that it underwrites higher education for all our sakes.
National executive member Davena Rankin, said: “Universities need stability. They’re doing vital research right now on vaccines, antibody tests and tracking systems, and our country is relying on the sector to train the key workers of tomorrow.
“The livelihoods of three quarters of a million people who work in higher education have been plunged into uncertainty, along with the £73 billion a year universities generate for our economy.
“The government must protect university staff, protect the jobs they love, protect the students and communities they support, and protect the economy they’re helping to build.”