Unite the union
 
22 April 2020
 
 
Issue 7
 
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Safety 
 
London bus measures welcomed after weeks of lobbying
 
Transport for London (TfL) finally, after increasingly intense daily meetings with Unite officers and our urgent demands, agreed to close the front doors on buses.
 
The announcement came as streets and bus garages in London and across the country fell silent for one minute on Friday, in memory of the 20 bus workers who had died of coronavirus in the capital.
 
London regional secretary Pete Kavanagh welcomed the decision, but the pressure on TfL, and on bus and transport operators throughout the UK, continues in order to take further measures on PPE provision to ensure our members’ safety.
 
John Murphy, Unite’s lead officer for buses in London said: “It is time for those responsible for London’s bus network to step up further and provide the proper and sufficient amounts of PPE our members need so badly.”
 
 
We shall remember them
 
Members from London bus garages sent in their pictures and videos of colleagues observing the one minute silence on Friday. The silence was observed in many other towns and cities around the country in memory of all workers, including bus workers, who have died of coronavirus. Many messages of support were posted on social media and Unite received media requests from around the world, including from Japanese television channels, to use our films and pictures.
 
Here is a compilation of those member videos, and a selection of tweets:
 
 
I'm not pleading now, I'm demanding
 
Bobby Morton, Unite's national officer for passenger transport, has demanded greater action from bus operators across the country, including going cashless, to keep our members safe. He makes his forceful point here on BBC News.
 
 
Government heeds Unite's calls and appoints PPE tsar
 
Weeks of urgent calls by Unite for the government to appoint a minister for PPE to address the chronic shortages in the provision of the vital safety materials have at last been acted on, with the announcement of a PPE ‘tsar’.
 
Lord Deighton was appointed by health secretary Matt Hancock following a weekend of shocking claims that NHS staff were being advised to re-use their safety kit and that shipments of new materials were being delayed.
 
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed the move, though said that a cabinet-level appointee for testing was also needed.
 
 
Jobs
 
Unite welcomes relaxation on HGV driver medicals to keep goods moving
 
Heavy lobbying by Unite has secured a relaxation in the rules on medicals for HGV drivers.

The decision means that thousands of lorry drivers will be able to continue working and not have their livelihoods taken away from them because they were simply unable to get a medical during the lockdown.
 
 
Agency workers furloughed after Unite pressure
 
Giant agency workers on assignment at Rolls Royce aerospace in Sunderland have finally been furloughed, three weeks after being sent home to an uncertain future. The breakthrough came after tough talks between Unite and the agency.

Suzanne Reid, Unite regional officer, described the decision as important in reminding all agency workers that they can be furloughed too. She urged all agencies to act fast in registering for the government’s job retention scheme “to end the stress and detriment to their workers’ health, and financial hardships for families”.
 
Wages
 
Warrington based JLR supplier furloughs workers on 100 per cent pay
 
Unite has welcomed an excellent agreement with vehicle components supplier Plastic Omnium in Warrington to furlough workers on full pay during the COVID-19 lockdown.
 
Under the job retention scheme, workers can receive 80 per cent of their wages from the government up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The agreement with Plastic Omnium means the company will meet the cost of an additional 20 per cent for around 150 full-time workers to bring them up to 100 per cent of pay.
 
 
Full pay for London agency workers
 
Unite secured another victory after outsourcing firm Gateway in London agreed to furlough its workers - on 100 per cent pay - after pressure from the union, which 'named and shamed' the company early last month.

Unite called out the firm after about 100 agency workers, including passenger transport staff who take children of key workers to school, were told by text that there was no more work for them. Unite demanded their reinstatement and after pressure from the union, Gateway apologised to its workers and agreed to furlough them on full pay.
 
Unite in the community
 
Eric Moffatt and Ian Blackhurst, shop stewards from Seqirus in Liverpool, have set up food collection points on site, with donations being sent to the Trussell Trust Foodbank in the city.
 
So far they have donated around 14 boxes full and are continuing to collect.
 
 
Meanwhile, Unite Sellafield construction branch has donated £4,500 to two separate causes. They joined forces with local gym owner Lee Butterworth to help source antibacterial gel and distribute it to the local community and organisations.
 
They also donated to the fundraising efforts of the daughter of Unite’s senior shop steward for contractors on the Sellafield site. Shona Cunningham’s dad Maurice died two years ago and she has been fundraising for NHS staff and front line workers, packing up and delivering food parcels.
 
 
To catch up with all Unite’s statements, stories and actions on #coronavirus go to our News and Events page HERE

And to UNITELive HERE
 
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