Public services union, UNISON Cymru Wales, has today (Friday) launched a campaign to encourage the UK government to extend its deadline for applications to the Settled Status Scheme.
COVID-19 has prevented many EU nationals from applying for Settled Status, which would allow EU nationals already living in Wales, to continue to work here.
UNISON has repeatedly underlined the contribution of foreign nationals working in Welsh public services. The trade union is asking its 100,000 members in Wales to write to their MP using its new campaign website and request the deadline for applications be extended past June 2021.
Bethan Thomas UNISON Cymru/Wales regional manager said,
“During COVID-19, a number of the measures put in place to support workers with the Settled Status application process were withdrawn, some, including access to scanners and computers in public libraries, continue to be inaccessible to EU workers.
“Many of those who have yet to apply for Settled Status will have limited or no access to the wholly online application system or will experience significant financial hardship doing so. These workers have been at the heart of the response to COVID-19 and deserve to have their rights protected”
Chiara Caserotti, an Italian-born key worker, said,
“I was lucky to secure settled status just before the COVID-19 outbreak. As an essential worker, I would have struggled to make headspace for an application during the pandemic.
“For many EU key workers, their priority has been ensuring the vital services they are responsible for do not stop because of COVID. Now they face the real possibility of not being able to make an application for Settled Status in time and not able to stay in the UK past June. This would be a travesty as many literally kept the country going at a time of national crisis.
“It is also demoralising that, instead of recognising the positive contributions we make to the UK, this government is offering financial incentives to actively encourage EU nationals to go back to their country of origin.”
Manuela Hughes, a German-born school support worker in Pembrokeshire, said,
“EU nationals employed in Welsh public services, in schools, NHS, the care sector and elsewhere, have really put our shoulder to the wheel during the pandemic and helped keep Wales running. Our livelihoods and families are here. We must be allowed more time to apply for Settled Status to which we’re entitled, and that’s why we are calling on MPs to extend the deadline.”
Notes to Editors
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97