As coronavirus spread around the world and hit hard in the UK, we knew that, because of the jobs they do, our own members would be losing their lives in the fight against COVID-19.
Tragically this has started happening now and our members – whether they’re on the frontline of the fight or not – are dying in this dreadful battle.
So as general secretary, on behalf of everyone in UNISON, I send the love and condolences of all of us to the families of all those members who have died of coronavirus and those who have died fighting it.
These members of our union, and our communities, exemplify what we are about. Our friends, our union, our public services. Putting themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others.
When much of the noise around what we are all going through now is about the lockdown and social distancing, the short and long term effects on the economy and when will life return to normal, it is a stark reminder that for some of our friends and colleagues, life will never be the same again.
So as a union, I’m clear we owe it to all our members to not only remember them but to carry on working round the clock, campaigning, speaking up to health officials and ministers and making sure we do our best for those on the frontline.
And that is why we are continuing to demand urgent improvements in the supply and distribution of personal protection equipment (PPE). After UNISON pushed the government last week and we had thousands of harrowing stories come in from members, there was some improvement.
In particular members working in the care sector told us what they were going through and so we are now focussing on care and pushing government to improve PPE in care homes immediately. There is no time to lose.
And there is no time to lose on testing too – we are currently pushing hard for an effective and efficient testing regime to be up and running as soon as possible. For members of the public and all healthcare staff.
So, whether you are staying home to stop the spread or continuing to work on the frontline, thank you, as always, for all you are doing as part of our union and please stay safe.