December 2019 Newsletter

We’re going on the front foot – a message from Jess Micallef


It was great to see so many reps turn up for our December activist forum, all committed to getting stuck in, building UNISON and standing up for East of England Ambulance Service employees.
UNISON national ambulance officer Colm Porter joined us to talk about what’s happening in branches across the country, and we’ll be delighted to have Colm back in the East in March, when he’ll be guest at our AGMs so you’ll have your chance to hear what UNISON’s doing in ambulance trusts across the UK.
One of the issues discussed at the meeting was the existing surge plans and what happens to staff when the trust has higher-level surge of calls.
It was clear that the EEAST is now on higher surge levels for more time and the effect this has for staff for having breaks, finishing late or undertaking different duties remains an issue.
UNISON reps are discussing this with leading operational and call handler managers to balance the management or the service with the importance some of the surge changes (or lack of communication about the escalation or de-escalation of these changes have on staff).
And we talked about our continued disappointment around the lack of employer actions after staff partnership forums at both a local and regional level. We’ve made the chief executive and operations director aware of our concerns and UNISON will keep pushing to improve working relationships between HR and union reps.
JESS MICALLEF
UNISON EEAS branch secretary

Getting uniforms right

Colm also talked about UNISON Health Conference. This year the EEAS branch will be pushing to have uniform policies higher up UNISON’s agenda.
We’re submitting a motion to conference arguing that most NHS ambulance uniforms are not fit for purpose, being too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer, while the green design blends too easily into the background and means crews have to wear extra layers of high-vis around vehicles.
We’re hoping UNISON’s Health Service Group Executive will raise the
issue with UK ambulance services and campaign for uniforms be redesigned to meet both the physical requirements of individual staff members and the statutory health and safety duties of employers.
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Defending newly qualified paramedics

A number of newly qualified paramedics (NQPs) have raised concerns with us about difficulties advancing from newly qualified paramedic status to paramedic after 24 months.
National guidelines suggest the process is ‘automatic’ but EEAST has been making band 5 NQPs apply for band 6 posts and demanding harsher portfolio reviews than those mandated by the national framework.
UNISON shared your concerns that the Trust was dragging its feet on promotions to save money at staff’s expense so we raised a dispute with management over it.
At the dispute meeting UNISON reps Graham Hillman, Michael Whitcombe, and William Barham, supported by regional organiser Sam Older, met Chris Martin, Marcus Bailey and Helen Adams from the Trust management.
Your reps were clear that the review processes had been confusing and NQPs didn’t get enough support in what they need to do to develop their portfolios.
Importantly, the employer agreed that if any NQP has developed a portfolio and is only waiting for review and sign-off, the transition from band 5 to 6 – and resultant pay increase – will be backdated to the two-year anniversary of the NQP’s registration
There was also some helpful proposals that are being reviewed by the employer’s side and a time frame of looking at these and agreeing an improved process going into 2020.
UNISON reps are working with the employer to identify the NQPs that have passed their 24 months working as an NQP or are near to the 24 months. If this is you or you require any further information please contact Graham, Michael or Will.

Protection or surveillance?


The Trust continues to roll out CCTVs in Ambulances and has plans for staff to start wearing bodycams in the future – but they remain switched off for the time being while your UNISON reps and Trust managers agree how they’ll be used.
We’re aware that in other Trusts cameras have been used to help prosecute assaults of emergency workers, deter thieves and prove ambulance drivers’ innocence in road traffic accidents.
However, many staff are also rightly concerned about increased surveillance at work and how this will affect you on the job.
We want to get this policy right, so we’ll be asking for your views in the New Year. Keep your eyes peeled for our survey in January so you can have your say in formulating the CCTV policy.

Get involved!

You should by now have received a letter inviting you to the branch annual general meetings in March and asking for existing and aspiring reps to get their nomination papers in.
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It really is important that you get involved – we can only properly stand up for you and your colleagues with a strong network of local reps helping us identify problems and deal with them. We’d really like to have a rep at every station, so have a chat with your colleagues and get someone to stand.
New address
From 2 January, all EEAS branch admin will be handled by UNISON’s Bedfordshire Resource Centre. Please direct enquiries to Bedfordshire Resource Centre, 24 Harpur Street, Bedford, MK40 1LB, T: 01234 343178 E: unisonbrc@outlook.com. The centre is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm and Saturdays 9.30am to 12.30pm.
Keep up to date with the latest from UNISON EEAS by visiting our website.
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and solely for the use of the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error please notify the sender or unisonservicedesk@unison.co.uk
The views expressed in this email are those of the sender and not necessarily the views of UNISON.
Registration Number 736T VAT Reference 626 3908 29
UNISON has taken steps to ensure that any attachments are free from viruses. You should, however, carry out your own virus check before opening any attachment. UNISON accepts no liability for loss or damage caused by software viruses.