As the UK and Scottish Government’s lift COVID restrictions and safety measures at pace, your branch is committed to keeping workers safe. Cases are still high and Omicron is running rampant throughout Edinburgh, with staff absence rates impacting services—such as closing school classes —so our message is clear—the risk is still there, so we need measures to protect staff.
The removal of legal obligations should not mean a removal of all measures, but the ability for the Council to create their own measures to best suit the needs of the workforce. Success must be measured by reduction in case numbers and absence rates, not in how stringently the Council stick to the Scottish Government’s line.
We recently met with management to discuss changes to working arrangements in Waste and Cleansing as a result of changes to Scottish Government guidance and restrictions being lifted. The message from senior management is clear—there will be no sudden changes, you will be informed in advanced and they will meet with the unions before anything changes.
We made clear that we were concerned with what we believe is a rushed removal of vital safety measures in the community and that ensuring workers safety is paramount.
Andy Williams summarised the Council’s current position:
We previously wrote about the staffing crisis in Health and Social Care, sharing the opportunities for staff and highlighting some origins of the crisis. We understand the need for this radical move and offer support to the Council and to all staff that decide to help out in these difficult times.
Staff that honourably take on work in social care must be adequately supported and protected by their employer—as do existing social care staff who may be concerned with the arrival of staff new to the field. There also needs to be careful work around the services that reduce due to staff going over to work in social care.
Unite, GMB and Unison have agreed the following principles with the Scottish Government and COSLA.
Joint statement on prioritisation of Social Care principles for engagement
In achieving the aim of prioritising social care it is recognised that where possible volunteering to assist in other roles will play a part. As such the following high level principles will support effective and proactive engagement with Trade Unions locally to ensure staff feel safe, protected and supported to take on time limited roles. Local Resilience Partnerships are asked to ensure as part of their ongoing process that the following arrangements are in place and met:
Normally, we would give our deputation as part of the Council’s budget meeting—taking place today—but due to the temporary standing orders ruling that deputations can only be submitted in writing, we can’t do that this year. Read on for our full deputation, or watch the video for a summary.
Unite CEC Branch’s deputation to Full Council on 18 February 2021
Unite CEC Branch would like to preface this deputation with an objection to the temporary rules that dictate that deputations can only be submitted in writing. The Council has used technology to overcome many challenges this year and we believe digital participation in Council committees from groups submitting deputations is not insurmountable and that barring active participation is contrary to the principle of democracy that the voices of citizens and workers can be heard as part of these proceedings.