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Today (3rd December) marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities. UNESCO’s theme on this day is “Building Back Better: towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post covid-19 world by, for and with persons with disabilities.” 

UNISON, the largest public sector trade union in Northern Ireland is calling on all Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive for greater inclusion of people with disabilities in society, including covid-19 response and recovery. 

UNISON Northern Ireland’s Women’s Committee have been busy preparing for the 16 days of action to end violence against women.  

The 16 days of action run from International End Violence Against Women Day on 25 November up until 10 December. 

To mark International End Violence Against Women and Girls day, UNISON Northern Ireland Women’s Committee hosted an online event ‘Normal was never good enough’, where they discussed domestic abuse as a workplace issue. 

According to Women’s Aid, more than 1 in 5 employed women are experiencing domestic abuse. 

Tomorrow (27th November) further restrictions come into effect across Northern Ireland aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 across our communities. UNISON, the largest union representing workers across all levels of the Health and Social Care system, are today appealing to the public to follow the new restrictions and continue to support their health service and all those who work in it.  

UNISON Northern Ireland Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said: 

On 17th November, Health Minister Robin Swann visited the newly opened Nightingale facility at Whiteabbey Hospital. Greeting him with a letter on his visit, UNISON rep and Trade Union Side Chair Stephanie Greenwood highlighted issues concerning staff including safe staffing and testing.

In the letter Stephanie said:

UNISON acknowledges the announcement made by the Department of Education to make payments for free school meals for eligible children during all school holidays until April 2022.

In July, UNISON supported the Children in Northern Ireland campaign to end holiday hunger for all our children. However, no child should go hungry, not just when the schools are closed or when they are eligible for free school meal provisions. Recently, we have seen a media spotlight shone on the reality of child poverty and we need to do more to eradicate child poverty in Northern Ireland.

UNISON, alongside our allies from across civic society on both parts of the island of Ireland, welcome President-elect Biden’s continued support for the Good Friday Agreement. We have shared this briefing note with the President-elect’s transition team to highlight the importance of securing guarantees for human rights and equality protections which act as a cornerstone of the Agreement.

Today (12th November 2020) the NI Executive will continue to meet to consider whether restrictions it has put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 should be continued. Commenting on the Executive’s forthcoming decision, UNSON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said:
‘‘It is shocking that the NI Executive is deadlocked as the number of cases of Covid-19 rise. Thousands of health workers are Covid positive or self-isolating. Some are very sick and are on Covid wards or in ICU. Tragically some have already lost their lives.

Following discussions with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), UNISON can announce that additional covid-19 funding to aid Supporting People Providers in the Community and Voluntary Sector can be used to top-up salaries of workers who are on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or half pay due to covid related illness and self isolation.

Employers who are Supporting People providers can now apply to the NIHE for funding to cover the costs of topping-up workers salaries to full pay from November.

Health unions representing more than 1.3m workers across the UK have written to the Prime Minister calling for a pay rise for all NHS staff before Christmas.   

The letter to Boris Johnson from all 14 health unions warns the second virus wave is already placing hospitals under immense strain.  

It says staff are “stressed, burned out and fearful” and that asking them to carry on regardless is “increasingly unrealistic”.  

UNISON along with other unions have met with officials representing the Children’s commissioner Koulla Yiasouma.

At the meeting UNISON highlighted our concerns at the gaps in the current provision of school meals across the education sector. The Catering services across schools are provided by the Education Authority.  

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