Health and Safety officers from five unions met in Columbus Quay as the next stage in drafting a Long Covid Charter to help unions support members affected by the condition.
The charter compiled by the North West Joint Union Covid Support Group, sets out the physical and mental health issues affecting members and encourages employers to commit to a partnership approach, which includes using risk assessments and reasonable adjustments for people returning to work. Co-ordinated by the Hazards North West campaign the awareness of Long Covid tops the agenda to highlight the symptoms which can be completely disabling for those affected.
Symptoms include viral fatigue, aching muscles, impaired vision, breathing difficulties nausea, dizziness, chest pains and associated feelings of anxiety and depression. The full extent of damage is still not known and makes returning to work difficult, even with a phased return.
Workers are increasingly facing a lack of support by bosses, some taking them through absence management procedures and even dismissing them in some cases. Paul Holleran Health & Safety officer for GMB union NW&I region is involved: “Workers are protected by some legislation but we quickly need to educate our members, reps and officers that this is an issue and employers need to follow their legal duty of care and provide support negotiated with the union. It is good that the TUC and most unions are involved as we need consistency as well as political and legal action if required.”
Other unions present included Marie Monaghan (UCU) Derek Naylor (CWU) Janet Newsham (Hazards NW) with other officers from the NEU and UNISON joining on Zoom.