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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.  

Health staff in UNISON across Northern Ireland  – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – are beginning a round of meetings with MPS from all parties with representation at Westminster urging the UK government to give an early, significant pay rise of at least £2,000 to every worker in the NHS. 

Today (5th November 2020) the NI Executive will meet to consider the continuation of restrictions it has put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 amidst media reports that they will be advised by health officials to further extend restrictions. Commenting in advance of the Executive meeting, UNSON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said:

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of our friend and comrade Peter Vayro. Peter bravely battled Covid 19.
He was a dedicated health worker and a lifelong trade unionist. For many years he was steward in Lagan Valley Hospital and from 2012 served our members as Health and Safety Officer of our Down Lisburn Health Branch.
Our Regional Committee, Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown and the staff of UNISON Northern Ireland extend our deepest sympathy to his son Saran and the entire family, many of whom are also front line health workers and UNISON members.

UNISON Northern Ireland welcomes the re-instatement of exemption from car parking charges for health staff.

Acknowledging the Minister’s recognition of the tremendous efforts by staff across the HSC the union’s Head of Bargaining and Representation Anne Speed said

UNISON the largest trade union representing workers in the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, is calling on the NIHE and the Department for Communities to ensure that frontline workers’ pay rates in Supporting People Services are implemented by all providers of the service.  UNISON understand that as part of a review being carried out by the NIHE and DfC on Supporting People funding to providers, that workforce costs will be based on Agenda for Change NHS rates of pay.

UNISON is now aware that the Department of Health has written to HSC Trusts and care home providers to extend financial support to them to include the payment of sick pay up to 80% of average salary for workers when they are self-isolating, shielding or ill due to Covid-19. This support for sick pay was previously in place from 1st June to 31st August. UNISON Head of Bargaining and Representation Anne Speed said: