COVID-19 Update


Please read the message below before voting. Voting is open until Friday 10th April. You will need your membership number and DOB to vote. 

Update 11/04/20: The ballot is now closed. Members voted overwhelmingly in favour.


First of all I want to assure you that the entire Surrey County UNISON team is hard at work during the current crisis, providing advice and support to members across all the public services. Whether you are a frontline care worker looking after our elderly and vulnerable adults or children, a school support worker staffing the new skeleton childcare facilities or working from home keeping vital services running; whether you are symptom-free and fit, self-isolating with symptoms or actually diagnosed with Covid-19; you will have questions that need answers and work-related issues that require advice. We are there to help.

We do not have all the answers – no-one does – but we are keeping ourselves updated with the latest from government, from the council, from the NHS and from the national UNISON centre. We will help as much as we can. A comprehensive guide will be also sent out soon.

The main branch officers and convenors (and the staff which we directly employ) are now all working from home, communicating via WhatsApp, taking calls and replying to emails from members – as well as directly negotiating and working with managers and employers across all local government services. The Branch Executive is meeting via video-link almost every other day and the full Branch Committee are also using video conferencing to meet and share information and make vital decisions.

Some of the big decisions we have made – to help get us through this emergency are:

We will be providing advice and support on Covid-19 work-related issues to anyone who joins UNISON during this crisis. This does not include any future potential legal representation – this would still require a minimum of four weeks membership prior to an issue arising. If you have colleagues that might benefit from UNISON membership please get them to join now at:

We have over £100,000 in our Industrial Action (IA) Fund (which is there to support any members in financial hardship during a strike). In normal times we would not use this for any other reason but we believe these are unprecedented times and some members (particularly in the community and private sectors) may suffer severe financial hardship during the crisis. UNISON has a Welfare charity emergency grant scheme called ‘There for You’. We want to be able to support the charity to make payments to those members that qualify – by freeing up the IA fund. This would normally have to be done by a vote at a general Branch meeting but we cannot hold physical meetings. Please click on the link at the top of the page or here: to vote on whether you agree that we should free up this money for Covid-19 related hardship claims. Vote by next Friday 10th April.

The Branch Officers and staff are here for you. Please contact the relevant person from the list below for advice specific to your service/workplace. List of Officers:

  • Paul Couchman – Branch Secretary
  • Sandy Gow – Deputy Branch Secretary
  • Andy Pattinson – Chair of Branch & Health & Safety Officer
  • Alan Clyne – Adult Social Care Convenor
  • Istvan Gulyas – Children’s Convenor
  • Kala Rosser – Treasurer, Equalities, Women’s Officer
  • Duncan Eastoe – Green Officer
  • Tanya San Juan – Non Surrey CC and Schools
  • Barney Wakefield – Non Surrey CC and Schools
  • Kate Shaw Nelson – Schools Organiser