Union News 24/11/22

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  • Long Covid sufferers face stigma

A new study has found that the majority of people living with long Covid have experienced some form of stigma associated with their condition.

The research, which was based on a survey of 1,100 people, found that 95% of those suffering from long Covid have experienced some form of stigma while 76% reported experiencing it “often” or “always”.

As of October 1 it is estimated that 2.1 million people are living with long Covid in Britain — around 3.3% of the population, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Dr Marija Pantelic, a lecturer in public health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “The stigma attached to long Covid is likely to leave a devastating mark on our society and health service provision.”

  • RMT announce further strike action

RMT union members at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies plan strikes on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and 3, 4, 6 and 7 January, in addition to an overtime ban between December 18 and January 2.

This is the latest development in an increasingly bitter six-month dispute over potential job cuts and plummeting take-home pay.

RMT assistant general secretary John Leach has called on Mark Harper—the third Tory transport secretary since July—to meet with RMT general secretary Mick Lynch and come to a resolution.

  • Strikes close Scottish schools

The Education Institute of Scotland has launched their first national strike over wages in 40 years, with the action expected to close most schools north of the border.

This comes after the union rejected a last-minute offer which would have seen most staff pocket a 5 per cent rise – less than half of soaring double-digit inflation.

General secretary Andrea Bradley has branded the proposal an “inept rehash” of the offer made to teachers earlier this year and accused ministers and local authority umbrella group Cosla of “not trying hard enough.”

She has repeated her demands for a 10 per cent salary boost, a figure described by Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville as “unaffordable due to extreme budget pressures.”

  • Strikes called off after pay deal

Outsourced workers at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy called off strike action today after winning a 12 per cent pay boost.

The caterers and hospitality staff, employed by Aramark at the government department, had been set for five days of walkouts into next month after public services union PCS warned of plummeting take-home pay.

But they are now set to pocket a rise above last month’s 11.1 per cent consumer prices index inflation rate.

Meanwhile, PCS members employed in the same central London offices by fellow contractor ISS as security guards, postal staff, porterage workers, cleaners and receptionists have suspended a planned four-day strike after receiving an improved offer on health and safety issues from bosses.

HEALTH & WELLBEING AT WORK – RESEARCH FROM CIPD & SIMPLYHEALTH

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The research Includes interesting evidence on presenteeism, and Long Covid and includes a concise guide outlining how HR practitioners can support employees’ physical and mental health as we emerge from the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings of the research include;

  • Working when ill (presenteeism) remains prevalent and is even higher for those working from home (81% versus 65% among those in a workplace). However, 52% of HR respondents are taking steps to address this trend and investigate potential causes.
  • Just under half (46%) have employees who have experienced – or are experiencing – long COVID. Long COVID is now a major cause of long-term absence.
  • New or better support is starting to be available for people working from home. Just under three-quarters of organisations (72%) are providing new or better support for people working from home. For example, nearly half (47%) are encouraging more responsible use of digital technologies, acknowledging that regular movement breaks and time away from screens are essential for health and wellbeing.
  • There is less management focus on health and wellbeing compared with the first year of the pandemic. Seven in ten (70%) of HR respondents agree that employee wellbeing is on senior leaders’ agendas (down from 75% last year) and 60% believe that line managers have bought into the importance of wellbeing (down from 67% last year).


Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented: “This latest research shows just how much work still needs to be done in these vital areas of health and well-being. It’s why our union will continue to campaign in this area”