Corona Virus: news from the branch

The UNISON West Sussex branch is managing to keep the office fully functional. Our core office hours are 9.00am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

We are dealing with a very large number of member queries. Last week we took 10 per cent of our annual member requests for advice in 5 days.

We focussed on ensuring that all members contacting the branch got a call back that day wherever possible as we understand that many members will be anxious at the current time: about their pay, safety, personal health and that of their loved ones.

Employer engagement

The branch has continued to engage and negotiate with its employers wherever we have an existing relationship.

For our main employer WSCC this means a twice weekly meeting with the Director of HR, monthly meetings with the Chief Executive and monthly meetings within each service directorate with relevant senior managers.

For schools, we have a weekly meeting with the Director of Education and Skills.

Negotiations with academies are usually maintained by regional and national UNISON officers, though the branch has been advising individual members of course.


PPE is a significant concern as many members will appreciate and we have pressed at the highest levels within employers where the branch is responsible for managing that relationship. All south east councils are in the same boat facing PPE shortages, and they are collectively applying pressure at ministerial level, as UNISON is.

The inquest into this crisis will uncover considerable central government incompetence and the effects of years of austerity. It will be a major task of UNISON and us all to ensure that public service funding cuts are reversed in the aftermath of this epidemic.


As you may have spotted, it is not business as usual in many ways for UNISON. The UNISON national annual conference has now been postponed. The West Sussex branch committee cancelled its April meeting, and we have also cancelled the Spring edition of Branch Lines newsletter which was planned for distribution at the end of April.

The branch’s smaller executive committee of its branch committee meets virtually later in April and will consider how we will resume full democracy in the branch going forward and additional ways we could support our workplace reps at the current time.

Members can rest assured the branch is working hard and is as active as ever in supporting members at the current time.

Seeking advice

Because the Corona Virus situation is unique to each member, their health, the health of their family, their job, and their employer – this webpage does not attempt to summarise advice or progress made or issues encountered with each employer.

If any member requires advice at the current time they are encouraged to access us in the normal ways: first through a workplace rep if they have one, and if not, through the branch office.

Congratulations go to all members for their sterling efforts at this time of national crisis.