November 2020 news

First of all to start with an apology.  With all the hectic goings-on recently, the regular communications email has been interrupted, as well as the 'Up Front' newsletter, which we've not been able to publish for a while.   We will be making efforts to resume 'normal service' as much as possible - and this is part of that.  UNISON is still here for you, and, like everyone, our reps have been very active and busy in the 'year of Covid' getting involved in all manner of projects and groups - as well as the vital individual support and representation.  As usual, we welcome comments and suggestions as to what you'd like us to cover in UNISON communications - feedback welcome!  Don't forget to check out our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and also the Branch website, which we are doing our best to keep as up to date and current as we can! 
Wow so much happening!  The big news at present, of course, is around the vaccines where there have been some very promising preliminary outcomes, and it looks like there may be a vaccine (or vaccines) which will start rolling out over the new two or three months.  Clearly this is going to be a massive exercise which will dwarf any previous vaccination campaign in living memory.  It appears there will be a prioritisation (and rightly so) of the vaccine to the most vulnerable groups first (care home residents etc).  It seems likely NHS and social care staff will not be far behind, then the population as a whole aged over 50 (in the first instance).  It's very much 'watch this space' at the moment - including in terms of how this might be delivered (given the scale of the undertaking).  No doubt there will be more information out very shortly.  Of course there is no reason to let any guard down meantime, in terms of, for example, use of PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, self-isolation where required, etc.  If you have any issues at work please get in touch with your local rep or the Inverness office (inverness.office@unison.co.uk). 
Pay Campaign 

UNISON is in talks with the Cabinet Secretary regarding a re-opening of the pay deal for 2020.  We are, however, about to conduct an electronic consultative ballot amongst the whole of UNISON's NHS membership in Scotland, asking members if they are willing to take industrial action if we cannot agree a deal. This is to increase the pressure - and show members' anger on the issue.  We are campaigning for a 'yes' vote.  Please note, if you do vote yes, this does not commit you to taking industrial action (a separate ballot would be required for that).  Full information will be sent to you, and an FAQ sheet will also be made available.  UNISON will be holding a 'virtual pay rally' and you will receive information as to how to join this.  The ballot will run for the first 2 weeks in December. 
UNISON General Secretary 
While on the subject of voting, if you have not already voted in the UNISON ballot to elect our new General Secretary, you have until 27 November to do so.  After consideration, the Branch chose to nominate Christina McAnea who, if elected, would be the first female General Secretary of the UK's biggest union. 

Argyll and Bute Review 
UNISON is, of course, actively involved in the work to take forward improvements to the culture in NHS Highland, and we support the 6 'workstreams' which have been established around this.  These are: 

1) Vision, values and behavioural standards for NHS Highland (including the role of the Manager) 
2) Pilot and roll-out of Civility Saves Lives (a new approach to raising and dealing with concerns in teams) 
3) Development and roll-out of core Manager training packages (also including work on the 'Once for Scotland' workforce policies) 
4) Root-cause analysis / diagnostic to understand why what happened, happened 
5) Design of tool / metrics / approach to measure and assess improvements in our culture 
6) Improve the people processes (there has recently been an external review of these which needs to be taken forward) 

However, in Argyll and Bute, whilst there has been a survey (and findings) from NHS staff in the health and social care partnership, Council staff were excluded from this, and we feel this does not take forward the recommendation from the Sturrock report, which called for 'a separate review in and about the functioning of management in Argyll and Bute'. 
UNISON, in conjunction with a number of local politicians, and also support from the GMB union, has requested of the Cabinet Secretary that this take place - and at the time of writing, a response is awaited. 
Healing Process 
NHS Highland's Healing Process (which operates independently) has also started.  If you are someone who has experienced bullying, this avenue is open to you, and more information is available here: 

UNISON can help with your submission to this if you wish. 

You might be interested to know the Branch is growing, reversing a bit of a small slide in membership that we have experienced over the last wee while.  So this is very good news - and welcome to all our new members who have joined this year!  Incidentally, so we can still get in touch with you, please make sure your email address (and other details) are up to date.  You can do this by emailing inverness.office@unison.co.uk, by telephoning 01463 715891 and leaving a message, or by post to UNISON, 53 Shore Street, Inverness, IV1 1NF. 

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