UNISON Highland Branch represents Highland Council Staff, Further Education Support Staff,  Highlife Highland, Bear Scotland and Community and Voluntary Organisations in and around Highlands and Islands.  We negotiate with employers on pay, terms and conditions, and assist members with work issues including grievances and disciplinary, bullying, and health and safety matters.


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Education Recovery - UNISON Working to protect your safe return
We know you will have been surprised by Scottish Government's announcement last week that they are planning for the full re-opening of schools on 11th August, and early years establishments from 15th July, and we know this has raised a number of concerns.
We want to reassure you that UNISON is working hard to protect your safety, and that of the children you care for, in our discussions with government about these return plans.
It is important to be aware that the full re-opening on 11th August is a planning assumption of Scottish Government.  This will only be 100% confirmed by Government to Parliament by 30 July at latest.  Councils will plan on this basis and your local UNISON Branch will be heavily involved in making sure these plans are fit for purpose.  But at all times decisions made on re-opening will be led by the science.
UNISON has outlined our key asks of employers, through the national Education Recovery Groups and in local discussions, which put your safety and that of the children you look after, first.  
We have asked for:
·         Clarity on the scientific evidence to support full re-opening on 11th August;
·         Clarity on the use of face coverings at work;
·         The availability of PPE;
·         Provision of adequate hand washing, and other infection control, facilities;
·         Funding for enhanced cleaning provision;
·         A specific Test and Protect strategy for educational establishments (including routine testing similar to that which has been rolled out to workers in social care;
·         Clarity on the processes and procedures to deal with suspected or confirmed local outbreaks;
·         Bespoke assessments for specific risks e.g. staff health conditions; known pupil behaviour etc;
·         Safe transport.

The Education Recovery Group meets again this week and we are expecting to receive a presentation on the scientific evidence at that from Prof. Tannahill, from the Scientific Advisory Board to the Cabinet.
The Schools and Early Years Recovery Guidance will need to be urgently reviewed - UNISON will be part of this detailed work, arguing at all times to ensure there is a safe return and process in place to protect you. 
We will keep in touch with you throughout and your local UNISON Branch Health and Safety Representatives and Officials will be there if any matters of concern arise at school/centre/hub or council level.
We know that public services, and schools and early years in particular, are key to supporting plans for Scotland re-opening for business and we are so proud of the efforts you make every day in support of the children and working people of Scotland.
Best wishes,
Head of Local Government Scotland 
Chair, Education Issues Group


Hello All


It is with great sadness that I have taken a phone call today informing me that Alastair Owens passed away yesterday morning in Raigmore Hospital.


Alastair worked for the Highland Council for many years, and when he retired from his post in 1995 become a very active member of the Inverness Retired Members Section, where he was their Branch Secretary, and was very faithful in attending the Branch Committee meetings to represent the retired members within our branch. He stood down from that post only a few years ago.


He will be sadly missed and we send our condolences to his family.


John Gibson

Branch Secretary

UNISON Highland

(presently working from home)

07879 034546







UNISON Highland branch - Tribute to Janice Hardacre


It is with great sadness that I must inform you that Janice Hardacre, one of our Education Representatives, has passed away.

Janice suffered a stroke on 9th April 2020 and passed away on Thursday 16th April 2020.


Janice first joined UNISON back in 1997, and became active within the branch firstly in 2003.  She worked in various schools within Inverness, including Lochardil Primary School, Central Primary School and latterly Charleston Academy.  Janice worked for a spell with High Life Highland as a Gardener at the Floral Hall in Inverness, Janice also worked in Front of House at Eden Court Theatre.

Janice regularly attended the Branch Committee meetings and was a great advocate for Pupil Support Assistant’s (PSA’s) within the schools of Highland Council.  Janice fought passionately for the rights of PSA’s and to get them the recognition they deserved within the Education Service of Highland Council.  Before becoming a PSA, Janice was a Nursery Assistant where her determination and passion for the recognition and rights of her fellow workers, as well as the needs of the children, showed through.


Janice is survived by her husband Gareth and her son and daughter Jamie and Emily.

She will be sadly missed by all who knew her and our thoughts are with her family at this time.





John Gibson

Branch Secretary

UNISON Highland

(presently working from home)

07879 034546


Subject: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - specific advice for members in social care

To: All Scottish Local Government Branches

Cc: Scottish LG Organisers, Scotland SMT


Further to the guidance circulated below I have sought specific advice for members working in social care, where there is a concern that the service user being cared for has been instructed by medical professionals to self-isolate or where there is a concern that the individual is showing symptoms of the virus. Health Protection Scotland have included advice about this here:




I have pasted the text from the relevant section below. It was only published yesterday so you may find that not all local authorities will have seen it yet.


I hope this is helpful.


Best wishes,




Johanna Baxter

Head of Local Government Scotland






“2.8 Home Visits (Including Primary Care, Third-Sector and Volunteers)

People returning from some areas of the world are being told to self-isolate depending on the location they have visited and their symptoms. People who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also being advised by the local Health Protection Team to self-isolate. People who are self-isolating and have no symptoms do not pose a risk to others. They are self-isolating to allow closer monitoring in order to identify early symptoms, and to enable prompt medical action if required.


If a person is in self-isolation, health and social care staff should ascertain if the individual has symptoms prior to their visit. It may become necessary to suspend some home visits and alternative arrangements must be put in place to maintain contact (e.g. telephone liaison). Health and social care staff performing non-deferrable essential visits (for example, child protection, personal or nursing care) to households where there is an individual self isolating, should follow the guidance below:


• If the person receiving the home visit has no symptoms

As the person has no symptoms there is no need to change your approach.


• If the person receiving the home visit has symptoms

If during a telephone consultation with a client or their family member / representative to assess their suitability for a domiciliary visit, it is thought that COVID-19 is a possibility then a domiciliary visit should be avoided. Instead, call the client’s GP or NHS 24 (phone 111) for further advice.


If during a domiciliary visit it is thought that COVID-19 is a possibility, then:

  • avoid any further physical contact with the person, if you can. The person should remain in the room with the door closed.
  • advise anyone with you not to enter the room.
  • ask the patient or their family member/representative to call their GP or NHS 24 for further advice.
  • inform your manager and contact your local Health Protection Team for advice.
  • if the client or resident is seriously ill and requires urgent medical attention, phone 999 and inform the ambulance call handler of the potential links to COVID-19.


If after assessment the person has a negative COVID-19 test, then no further action is required.


If after assessment the person has a positive COVID-19 test, then the local Health


Protection Team will be in contact with you and will carry out a risk assessment, identify people who have been in contact with the case and advise on any actions or precautions that need to be taken.”