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The NHS has begun this week to deliver the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19. Immunisation of targeted groups of the public in priority groups and some NHS staff has taken place.

We have updated our branch guidance which you can access below.

We also attach information for health branches who represent members in social care.

In October UNISON welcomed the extension of the Department of Health's scheme providing publicly funded financial support to care home owners to subsidise statutory sick pay up to 80% of average salary for workers when they are self-isolating, shielding or ill due to Covid-19.

We raised concerns about its implementation, as it appeared then that many providers were dragging their feet and failing to access the funding.

On this International Human Rights Day, UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown sends a message of support for the Make Our Future Fair campaign calling for a strong and enforceable Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Register for the Human Rights Consortium Make Our Future Fair Campaign Launch:

Today (9th December) the Minister for Health, Robin Swann MLA, has announced that pay lost by health and social care workers taking industrial action from November 2019 to January 2020 will be returned. Reacting to this announcement, UNISON Head of Bargaining and Representation Anne Speed said:

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.