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Derby care homes saved + BT terms fight + NHS safety scandals

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Issue 2707
A campaign forced the council back
A campaign forced the council back

In the face of a union campaign and mounting public pressure, Derbyshire county council last week announced a reversal of plans to close seven care homes in the county.

The plans would have affected over 300 care jobs if they had gone ahead.

Martin Allen, regional secretary for the GMB union’s Midland & East Coast Region, said, “The plan to close these care homes was a bad idea from day one.

“The public knew it, care workers knew it, residents knew it and the GMB union knew it.

“This decision not to close them will come as welcome news at a time when our care workers have been at the front line of tackling this virus.

“We will continue to fight for them every step of the way.”

Fight looms on BT terms

The CWU union has expressed shock and dismay at BT’s unilateral move to “review” redundancy and paid leaver terms by serving notice on the 2018 Pension Agreement.

That hard-negotiated deal contains a legally binding annexe, included at the insistence of the union, that sets out the company’s responsibilities to team member grade employees in any redundancy situation.

BT had admitted that it is this element of the 2018 Pension Agreement alone that it now wants to change.

The motive is to reduce contractual redundancy terms.

Tellingly, the move was announced just as the first compulsory redundancies ever to have been made among team member trades in BT Group are about to come into effect.

NHS safety scandals

Ambulance staff across Cumbria worked for up to 23 days with face masks that were not “fit tested” to protect them from coronavirus, their Unison union has said.

Union officials now plan to report North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to the Health and Safety Executive.

They said that union members feel angry and let down.

All frontline NHS staff working with potentially infected patients should wear properly tested respirators.

They have to be airtight to prevent the inhalation of potentially infectious airborne moisture particles.

Yet it was not until 15 April—23 days after the government imposed lockdown—that NWAS began fit-testing its masks, said Unison convenor Mike Oliver.

Almost a year earlier, the union wrote to NWAS bosses to warn of a “significant number of staff” using untested masks.

West Cumbria has already seen a “cluster” of four ambulance staff testing positive for coronavirus.

  • Bosses at The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven have been forced to apologise to 130 theatre staff after admitting they had worked with inadequately tested respirators.

The Royal College of Nursing accused the NHS trust involved of “reckless” behaviour. It said the failure over a five-week period may have put workers’ lives at risk.

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