Dear Colleague, Over the past week and last few days the coronavirus has intensified and we expect there will be further advice and updates from the government and from Public Health England in the coming days and weeks.
Nationally, the TUC has been speaking with affiliates and discussing how we proceed over the immediate months ahead. We know that unions have been doing this themselves, or are planning to do so in the next few days. One of our affiliates has advised its reps/officers not to attend any meetings either internally or externally unless its online and it is reasonable to expect others will follow.
Of more pressing concern is the health and wellbeing of union staff, reps and members. I have been discussing this ongoing situation regularly with officers, and also wanting to ensure that our democracy wouldn’t be affected by the potential of low turnout.
This morning our elected officers discussed what to do with a consensus that we postpone the annual conference and look at other events, and the TUC have issued guidance too, which you can see below. What this means is set out below too.
I know there will be disappointment and concern, but our primary focus is the health and wellbeing of our staff and those attending our events. We also know that unions will be extremely busy in the coming weeks supporting members. If you have any questions or comments, please do get in contact. We have sent this to all attendee’s of our events and structures, but please do share with the necessary people who may ordinarily attend.
Our annual conference, which was due to take place on Saturday 28th March in Southport, is postponed. The venue have kindly agreed to deferring the booking to a future date. Officers will continue to discuss next steps, and when appropriate, we will be speak to the Executive about what we should, or can, do next. This will include everything from new dates to what we do about motions etc.
Delegate packs have already been posted, so please retain these, although new ones may need to be issued at a later date.
Other meetings, including Executive and Regional Council
We are currently looking at how we run democratic structures online, and what options are available to us. Where possible, we will defer meetings and decisions. The Public Services Committee, due to take place on Tuesday 24th March, has been cancelled.
Our Equality Committee, due to take place on Saturday 18th April will not take place in person. We will contact delegates about next steps, including possible online meetings.
Our next executive is due to take place on 5th May, and our next regional council is due to take place on 6th June. These will unlikely take place in person, and will be impacted by the postponement of the regional conference. Officers will discuss this and other next steps in the coming weeks, taking into account relevant advice and guidance, and be in touch.
Other meetings will be cancelled or moved online, with external organisations and others, as appropriate.
All conferences and large scale meetings are postponed until further notice. We will be monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will endeavour to keep unions updated as things develop. Where key governance decisions can be deferred they should be, where we need to take decisions as part of our democratic processes we will be exploring how we can use digital communications technologies to do this in a way which does not expose people to risk of contracting coronavirus.
We appreciate this may be very disappointing and frustrating, however, we need to ensure that the health and wellbeing of those who would attend and our staff is given the right priority, as well as doing what we can to minimise the spread of the virus.
Where it is appropriate to do so, the current committee and officer make-up of statutory bodies should remain in place. When we know more about the nature of the spread of the virus and what appropriate contingency measures we need to put in place, we will continue to consult with unions about the right course of action, including rescheduling the conferences and committees, or moving to a digital / online method for making governance decisions.
Acting Regional Secretary
TUC North West