Branch Secretary's Blog

Branch Secretary’s Blog

1st October 2021

Well, as if things could not get worse, there are more and more unknowns heading our way. A consultation exercise is taking place nationally regarding the intention to mandate both the Covid and Flu vaccines for NHS Staff. The Government have already mandated the jabs for Care workers and the Health Secretary stated that staff who don’t want the jab should look for another job. Not at all helpful under the circumstances.

UNISON has produced a draft 22-page response for the consultation paper which confirms that although UNISON encourages all to get vaccinated, we do not support mandating it for those who do not want it. Our main concern is that if the Government do legislate this for NHS staff, it potentially opens the door for staff to be legally dismissed for refusing. We have suggested to our management that we need to start discussing this potential to prepare a joint approach to addressing issues that arise. It is anticipated that the matter will be raised, and a response agreed at the National Ambulance Service Partnership Forum (NASPF).

UNISON recently asked our membership for their views on the implementation of the 3% pay rise for NHS staff which is below the rate of inflation. Over 80% of respondents have told us that they want to reject the 3% rise and are prepared to take action. However, the return was below the level required to legally instigate Industrial Action so UNISON has decided to do a formal Indicative Ballot. I am pleased to say that the ambulance services in the UK had some of the highest returns but again, we need to get additional members voting. NWAS had around a 37% return against a required 51% under the Trade Union Act. So, we are not that far away but I can’t say enough how important it is for every single NWAS UNISON member takes part in the ballot when you receive it. It only takes a moment; the union is only as strong as its members so it’s important that the members participate. The ballot is anticipated to take place sometime in November. Please ensure that we have your up to date address and contact details.

We are currently going through a consultation exercise named the Service Development Modernisation Review. This has the potential to affect every single part of the service in some way. Contentious agreements are up for review that includes things like the Meal Break Policy, UNISON, along with our TU colleagues have already identified Red Lines to the management which are basically elements that we are not willing to consider or discuss. I have no doubt that this will not be something easy to agree so expect it to be going on for some considerable time. We will keep you updated on any developments.

At the time of writing this blog, I am pleased to report that we now have over 4000 members in NWAS UNISON. This reflects the hard work of our reps right across the Trust and the successes that we have achieved. Along with the additional leave for all overtime worked that UNISON won at a tribunal, many of our members have already received back pay for any overtime that they have worked over the last 2 years. Discussions are taking place nationally on how this is going to be applied moving forward and it is hoped that an agreement will be reached in the not-too-distant future.