Blog: We all have a shared interest in combatting coronavirus

Employers, the government and individuals all need to work together to fight this global health threat

Anyone watching the news at the moment is likely to be concerned about the impact of the coronavirus. Highly contagious, and spreading across the globe, I’m sure we’ve all wondered what we can do to keep ourselves and our families safe.

At this stage, we’re encouraging people to follow the best available advice – ensure that you wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water, carry tissues with you to catch any coughs or sneezes and avoid close contact with anyone who is unwell.

As the largest health union in the country, UNISON is already liaising with the NHS over what action is being taken to deal with the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

I know that NHS workers – and all of our union’s members providing vital public services – will want to do everything they can to minimise the impact, and I promise that you union will continue to do the same.

Employers and the government will also need to play their part, because good working practises can help slow the spread of contagious illness.

For example, those on zero-hours or precarious contracts simply can’t afford to self-isolate unless they receive sick pay. Low-paid workers – including those caring for some of the most vulnerable in our society – could be forced to choose between isolating themselves and paying their bills.

In our shared interest – caring for each other and keeping each other safe – the government should ensure that no-one is forced to make that choice.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to all our members across all our services working flat out to contain this virus and treating and caring for those affected.

I am proud you are all part of our union.