The road to recovery from C19 and the new ‘normal’
This week saw the first ever meeting of the TUC General Council by remote means.
As members can imagine, it was an at times sombre affair, compounded by the depressing news of still unacceptably high numbers of C19 related deaths among the UK population and neighbouring countries. At times there was a palpable sense of grief, as emotional reports were given by Union leaders about the loss of their comrades in a range of professions including health, prisons, probation, transport, and more in the front line of the battle against this unseen and ferocious enemy.
The fatality rate amongst NHS staff is itself the subject of intense media and political scrutiny along with the incompetent handling of the provision of protective equipment. Not surprising that there is a growing clamour for a public inquiry. Equally alarming is the disproportionate amount of people who have died within our Black and Asian communities. The world pandemic that we are in the middle of has also laid bare a number of very harsh realities; one is that insufficient attention was given by the Government to the impending threat when compared to other nations, and the other is that the UK’s care home and social welfare sectors have all but collapsed.
It's clear from the horrendous stories and images that appear daily on our TV screens that these vital institutions and the elderly citizens who rely on their services, had no chance of coping with such an emergency. Aside from the disgraceful austerity policies of the last 12 years of Tory Government, the failure to have an effective National Strategic Plan in place and the required protective equipment to support workers and people in what are especially vulnerable groups means that a day of political reckoning must surely come.
Meanwhile, there have been some positives. The first is that the Government have woken up to the fact that the Union movement still exists and that its constituent membership has many things to offer in terms of keeping the country running and important views about the economy and the fiscal measures that have emerged in support of workers facing unemployment. The TUC have now called for a National Council for Recovery to bring together politicians, employers, unions and government in the interests of all. We cannot afford to wait any longer.
The other, from our perspective, is that unions are experiencing massive levels of engagement with their members, who are not only seeking advice and support but who are feeding in vital information and opinions that can be taken into national negotiations. Moreover, the use of digital technology in these processes has shown how we can equip ourselves for the future, even when the current restrictions start to be lifted.
Nobody can tell when that will be; but the clear view from the TUC is that the future ‘normal’ won’t be anything like it was before. This union will certainly not be taking our foot of the pedal when it comes to the welfare and safety of our members wherever you are employed.
We also intend that the essential services that you are helping to maintain which are making a vital contribution to the wider cause, and your commitment - along with our Sisters and Brothers elsewhere in the union movement - must be recognised, and cannot be allowed to be forgotten by this and successive governments.
New Acting Assistant General Secretary
National Official Ranjit Singh has recently been appointed to fill the above role within Napo following an internal process. Among other duties, Ranjit will undertake the management of Napo’s legal and representation budget and oversee the engagement with our panel of National Representatives for a period of 12 months, after which the employer will review the position.
We are sure that Napo members will join the whole Napo team in extending congratulations to Ranjit in his new role going forward. Details of the impact of this appointment on Ranjit's current duties and those of our National Officials and General Secretary, will follow in due course. Meanwhile, all member enquiries should continue to be directed to your appropriate Link Official National Officer as before.
An online event for this weekend
Napo is affiliated to the National Shop Stewards Network and members might be interested in this Zoom public meeting on Sunday 26th April (3pm).
“Workers fighting for safety during Covid-19”
3pm Sunday 26th April
The meeting will share experiences of how workers are fighting to stay safe at work during the pandemic and discuss how we build for what is looks like becoming a global day of protest and action on the annual International Workers Memorial Day, this year on Tuesday April 28.
Never have the words “Remember the dead, fight for the living” been so important.