IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATES BELOW
Blaenau Gwent is a county borough in Wales, sharing its name with a parliamentary constituency.
It borders the unitary authority areas of Monmouthshire and Torfaen to the east, Caerphilly to the west and Powys to the north. Its main towns are Abertillery, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar. Its highest point is Coity Mountain at 1,896 feet.
Here at Unison Blaenau Gwent, we're proud to be a welcoming, inclusive Union for all.
Happy LGBT+ History Month!
PAY FAIR FOR CARE
On Wednesday 3 February at 12:30pm, UNISON is hosting a carers' rally as part of the Pay Fair for Care national day of action.
Join the event to hear from care workers, celebrities and politicians. Wednesday, 3 February 2021 from 12:30-14:00 UTC, online with Facebook Live.
SCHOOL MEMBERS MEETING
Following our very successful and well-attended meeting for schools' members last week, we are repeating the meeting this Wednesday 20th January at 5pm for those who were unable to attend or could not join the previous meeting as it was full - apologies to all of you for any inconvenience.
So that we can accommodate everybody who'd like to attend, you will need to register to attend the meeting using this link - Register here
This meeting is an opportunity for us to receive information from you about how schools are operating in your area and to answer any questions you may have.
SCHOOL MEMBERS MEETING
We would like to invite you to a meeting of school members next Thursday 14th Jan. This is an opportunity for us to receive information from you about how schools are operating in your area and to answer any questions you may have.
Please see the joining details below.
Schools members meeting
Thursday, Jan 14, 2021 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (GMT)
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United Kingdom (Toll Free): 0 800 031 4727
United Kingdom: +44 20 3713 5011
Access Code: 229-348-309
During the pandemic and with the festive period fast approaching, it’s understandable that many people will find themselves feeling stressed and anxious.
We have compiled some useful contact information, should you, a friend, or relative require some extra support.
Remember that it’s ok to reach out for help, we’re all only human. There are trained people who care and want to help. You are not alone.
Call: 0800 132 737
Text ‘HELP’ to 81066
Call: 116 123
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Call: 0800 58 58 58
Open 5pm to Midnight
Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258
Switchboard LGBT + Helpline
Call: 0300 330 0630
The Silver Line (Help for older people)
Call: 0800 470 8090
PAPYRUS (Prevention for young suicide)
Call: 0800 068 41 41
STARS IN OUR SCHOOLS
Stars In Our Schools is an annual celebration of school support staff. This year's event took place on 27th November.
We wish to commend and celebrate this very important group of keyworkers.
Pictured- Shannon Price / Abertillery 3-16's School
YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS A PRIORITY
Your mental health is a priority. Your happiness is essential. Your self-care is a necessity.
Active Monitoring is a FREE, six week, guided self-help programme to help you to better understand and be more in control of your feelings. If you live in Wales and are over 18, get in touch to find out more.
Get in touch today
Tel: 01970 626225
Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent Mind
24 George Street
To celebrate the launch of the new Blaenau Gwent Unison App, we are giving members the chance to win one of the following prizes:
• B&B stay for 2 at the Celtic Manor Resort
• Spa and pamper day for 2 at the Vale Resort
• Supercar driving day experience
Simply download our App and visit 'Prize Draw'. Only Blaenau Gwent Unison members are eligible to enter.
TTP GUIDANCE LINK
Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect Strategy: COVID-19 Guidance for Education Settings - Test, Trace, Protect is the Welsh Government’s approach to testing and contact tracing to help us live with Covid-19 (coronavirus) whilst work continues to find more effective treatments and a vaccine. Click on the PDF link for more information.
PAY OFFER TO MEMBERS
NJC committee to put pay offer to members - Consultation will allow branches and members to discuss the employers’ final offer – the best that can be achieved by negotiation. Read more .....
REOPENING OF SCHOOLS SURVEY
Following the Welsh Government announcement last week, UNISON Cymru Wales want to find out how you, our members in schools, feel about the staggered reopening of schools on 29th June and the extension of the summer term by one week to 27th July. We are conducting a short survey which should take about 5 minutes to complete - please return your response by 12 noon on Tuesday 16th June using the link below. Survey here .....
GLORIA MILLS - UNISON HEAD OF EQUALITY
The murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities has focused attention on inequality and racism. UNISON head of equality Gloria Mills looks at the union’s role. Read more .....
Since care workers are caring for those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, they must be able to self-isolate if they show symptoms.
Yet care workers cannot afford to do this.
Help us to demand #FullPayForCarers to #StopTheSpread. Support Link Here .....
USEFUL LINKS FOR MEMBERS
Dedicated school support staff page on the UNISON Wales website; Read more .....
PPE Guidance (updated 020420); Read more .....
General link for members to get information on their benefits from the government; Read more .....
Coronavirus – Your Rights at Work; Read more .....
Coronavirus – Advice for social care workers; Read more .....
UNISONWales dedicated Facebook page for our social care members; Read more .....
KEY WORKERS POSTER
Thank you very much to Noah Stockham (Age 8) for this brilliantly coloured Key Workers poster. It has now been proudly displayed in his front window for all to see.
Join us in saying a huge thank you to all our key workers, by colouring one of these printable posters and displaying it in your window.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: COVID19 UPDATE
Statement by Kirsty Williams Minister for Education
I’d like to thank parents for listening to the advice and keeping most children at home. I’d be grateful if tomorrow morning you only use schools or childcare as a last resort.
The advice has not changed as a result of tonight’s decision to further restrict movement, which our First Minister, along with other UK leaders took with the sole aim of slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Children should be at home wherever possible, critical workers will still need to have safe care arrangements for their children. Our schools and childcare settings are providing a vital service to support critical workers and our most vulnerable children.
Those involved in the current arrangements looking after children should continue. Many thanks to our amazing teaching and childcare professionals for their commitment in this time of national need.
This situation will continue for the immediate term but we will be reviewing with healthcare professionals, local authorities and our teaching unions.
IMPORTANT COVID19 MESSAGE
Although we are all practicing social distancing at the moment, we wanted to quickly reassure you that we're very much still here if you require any assistance or support. It's important that during these trying times that we abide by the rules allocated to us and we all do our part to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus. We would like to wish you the best of health during this difficult time. Please stay safe.
Our contact details are as follows:
Unison Office - 01495 355252
Ian Robins – 07468487243
Dave Rees – 07469926458
UNISON CYMRU WALES SURVEY
Gender Equality in the Workplace. The survey shouldn't take long and we'd appreciate it if you could share with others who may be interested in participating. The results will allow us to better campaign to improve your rights at work.
AGM - A BIG THANK YOU
On behalf of the Blaenau Gwent Unison branch, we would like to say a personal thank you to all attendees and speakers at last night's AGM meeting.
I'm sure all in attendance would agree that Eva Clarke's goosebump-inducing presentation was both poignant and inspiring and we all feel deeply honoured to have spent time with her.
At the end of the evening, Eva was presented with the International Award by our very own, Neville Southall. The award was issued on behalf of the Blaenau Gwent Unison branch to honour her exceptional work for the Holocaust Educational Trust.
AGM - NOTICE OF BRANCH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Notice of Branch Annual General Meeting date is Thursday 20th February 2020 at 5pm in the Council Chambers, Civic Centre.
Voting members may make nominations for the officers and workplace stewards to be elected at the AGM. This must be done by completing the relevant forms which can be obtained from the office address in the PDF link. Motions for this AGM are due by Friday 17th January 2020.
WE STAND TOGETHER
We stand united with the victims and survivors of one the most horrendous chapters in human history.
Let us all never forget the unimaginable horror of the Holocaust and pledge to challenge ALL forms of prejudice and hatred.
THANK YOU TO THE COMMUNITY OF ABERTILLERY
Unison would like to offer their sincere thanks to the community of Abertillery for their ongoing support against the proposed redundancies of level 3 Teaching Assistants at the 3-16 ALC.
Despite, torrential rain and high winds community members turned up in their droves to let the school’s governing body know what they really thought of their proposals.
Dave Rees, Unison Branch Chair and Chair of Local Government Committee for Wales said, “ I would like to put on record the Unions sincere thanks for the communities overwhelming support during this difficult, uncertain time for staff. Unison hope the Governing body will take the time to listen to everyone’s concerns regarding the ill-conceived proposals of the School. Let us get around the table and work together to find solutions that will benefit everyone as we cannot afford for the school to fail. However, the Governing Body will have to rid itself of the current culture of secrecy, deceitfulness and autocratic behaviours if talks are to be fruitful. Finally, I would like to thank Nick Smith the incumbent Labour MP for giving his full support to the staff during this awful period for them".
CELEBRATING 'STARS IN OUR SCHOOLS'
Celebrating 'Stars in our Schools' with the Six Bells Primary Campus, we would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to all involved.
This year’s Christmas trip is a visit to London on Saturday 7th, December 2019. The pickup points and times are as follows:-
Tredegar clock – 8.00pm
Civic Centre – Ebbw Vale 8.10am
Brynmawr Cinema 8.20am
Railway Inn, Abertillery 8.30am
High Cross roundabout – 9.00am
Leaving London 11.00pm.
Prices are £5 for Unison Members and £15 for non-members.
There are 60 spaces only, so please book early by paying your money to Sian at the Civic Centre Reception.
SUPPORT FOR OUR WORKERS
As the union of a million women in public services, we take the menopause seriously. It’s a workplace issue – nearly 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work. Find out what Unison are doing by visiting our link. Click here for details
LOCAL COUNCIL SERVICES E-PETITION
If you’re concerned about the future of your local council services, please take a moment to sign the ‘Earlier notification of council budgets by the Welsh Government’ e-Petition Click here for details
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today? Click here for details
DISABLED WORKERS SHORT SURVEY
Help us fight for better rights for disabled workers. We'd like to find out about your experiences at work if you have a health condition or are disabled. Can you take our short survey? You could win a £50 One4all gift card for taking part! Click here for short survey
UNISON, BLACK HISTORY MONTH
For UNISON, Black History Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate achievements of Black people throughout history. Black History and Black British History in particular, is often marginalised. So Black History Month is a key time to acknowledge achievements and provide an opportunity to discuss wider issues affecting the Black community. Click here for more information or for further details please contact: UNISON Office on 01495 355252
The Porthcawl Elvis Festival trip will be taking place on Saturday 28th September 2019 - Arrangements will be roughly the same as previous trips. Members are advised to book early as seating is limited and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Adults Only.
To secure your place, please leave your name and remittance with Sian on reception at The Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale.
Pick up times are as follows:
10.00am -Tredegar Clock
10.10am - Ebbw Vale Civic Centre
10.20am - Brynmawr Cinema
10.30am - Abertillery
Return Journey – Leaving Porthcawl 11.00pm
Members £3.00 - Non-Members £10.00
For further details please contact: UNISON Office on 01495 355252
September 16-20th 2019
GREEN UNISON WEEK
The rearing of cattle is a massive contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Having one meat free day a week can make the world of difference. Check out some delicious recipes click here
UNISON WORKPLACE DISABILITY AND HEALTH SURVEY
Do you have a disability or a health condition? Telling us about your experiences at work will help us campaign for improvements for all disabled workers. Click here to take part in our survey of Unison members.
VIOLENCE AT WORK SURVEY
During the past few years Unison has recognised a dramatic rise in violence at work incidents, especially against staff within the public sector.
Following a number of discussions the Blaenau Gwent Unison Branch have decided to establish how far reaching and significant this increasing, unacceptable behaviour is having on the workforce within Blaenau Gwent.
To do this Unison are requesting that you spare a minute of your time to complete the simple one page questionnaire in the link shown below. Following receipt of your completed anonymous questionnaires the Unison Branch Chair will develop a report that will be shared with you, highlighting any key findings. Also, the report will be shared with the Corporate Leadership Team with the intention of improving practices where identified.
Blaenau Gwent Unison Executive Branch want all staff to know they believe the council must take a zero tolerance attitude towards violence at work and your cooperation will allow Unison help make the place a safer and more happier workplace.
Please remember, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related violence as: Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks.
Help And Support
BLAENAU GWENT HELP AND SUPPORT
Everyone has their own reasons for joining UNISON, but everyone receives our help and support. Whatever you're going through, we can help! Call 01495 355252.
Closing date 26th August 2019
WIN A HOLIDAY
Equality is one of UNISON’s core values and every year, we ask our members about the issues affecting them. This then helps our campaigning work.
Last year over 23,000 members took part and helped inform briefings for the union’s service groups and self-organised groups on key issues for their bargaining and organising agendas.
The survey runs annually and is not just for activists, so please get involved – and encourage as many of your workmates and family as possible to take part. It closes on 26 August.
And as a thank you for taking part you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a mini break in beautiful Devon at UNISON’s own Croyde Bay Holiday Resort.
Click here for details
SUMMER BAND CONCERT
This week Tredegar Male Voice Orpheus Choir will be performing as part of our Summer Band Concerts. The concert will be held in the Bandstand (weather permitting) starting at 3pm.
These are concerts are FREE so come along and enjoy this wonderful entertainment.
Refreshments are available to purchase from the Orchid House Cafe at Bedwellty House or bring along a picnic.
Further information available for all events Click here for details
GET HELP WITH SCHOOL UNIFORM COSTS THIS SUMMER
Struggling to make ends meet? Worried about back to school costs? Help is on hand.
We have set up a limited fund to help UNISON members on low income with school uniform costs by way of a one-off payment of up to £120.
To apply, download the application form from:
unison.org.uk/get-help or contact UNISONDirect on 0800 0 857 857.
Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 19 July 2019.
April - May
17th May 2019
UNISON IN BLAENAU GWENT
Many thanks for voting on UNISON's elections for our National Executive Committee. Every vote does matter. Ballot closed at 5pm on 17th May 2019.
A FIRST IN WALES FOR BLAENAU GWENT
Blaenau Gwent Council has become the first local authority in Wales to sign Unison’s Ethical Care Charter reinforcing its commitment to fair working for home carers.
An online survey, ‘Time to Care’, carried out by the trade union showed that home care workers often feel poorly paid and treated and that they don’t always have enough time with clients to provide the necessary care, support and companionship due to time travelling between calls.
Unison’s over-riding objective behind the Charter is to establish a minimum baseline for the safety; quality and dignity of care by ensuring employment conditions support the recruitment and retention of a more stable workforce through more sustainable pay, conditions and training levels.
The Council is confident that working practices for home carers in Blaenau Gwent are good and signing the Charter is a continued commitment going forward, as well as the appetite to improve if necessary. In Blaenau Gwent the Council is keen to promote home care as a good career path for people of all ages and is hoping to attract more people into the role.
As well as adhering to the Charter for its direct employees, the Council also works closely with its commissioned domiciliary care providers to ensure that high quality care is provided.
The Council is already committed to paying its employees the Foundation Living Wage.
Dave Prentis, the General Secretary for Unison and Margaret Thomas, UNISON Cymru Wales Regional Secretary, visited the General Offices in Ebbw Vale today to sign the Charter with the Council’s Managing Director Michelle Morris; the Council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Garth Collier and Executive Member for Social Services Cllr John Mason.
Cllr Garth Collier, Deputy Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council said:
“It is wonderful to be leading the way in Wales by signing the Ethical Care Charter today. At Blaenau Gwent Council we work closely and positively with our trade unions for the good and wellbeing of all our employees. The Ethical Care Charter is something that this administration feels very strongly about and I am delighted that we are the first Council in Wales to put pen to paper and show our real commitment to this.”
Cllr John Mason, Executive Member for Social Services said:
“We are passionate that all our employees are supported by good and fair working conditions and in Social Services we want home carers to be able to do their jobs effectively. The carers are the people best placed to tell us exactly what support the people in their care need and by listening to them we can make sure that the best interests of our residents are being met. We are committed to working with all partners to provide high quality care and this will continue as we move forward with any future new care contracts. There is a need for more home carers so we will also be working to promote the role in the hope that we can attract more people to train up.”
Dave Prentis said:
“Ensuring fair employment conditions for care workers is essential if they are to improve the quality of life of the people they look after. UNISON’s ethical care charter highlights the key role that care workers play in society, by fighting to secure the pay and working conditions they deserve.”