Unite the union
1 April 2020
Issue 4
Unite wants to ensure that all members know what their union is doing to support them during these unprecedented times. Our priority is protecting you and this regular newsletter is keeping you updated on what actions we are taking to do that.

If you can help us to win our campaigns to get the government to act to stop an economic catastrophe for working people, then please do. Share our social media posts, send them to your MPs and try to take any actions we ask of you.
Lobby your MP for charity sector support 
Britain’s charities and voluntary organisations need urgent government financial support to continue to help some of the most vulnerable in society.

Unite members working for charities are warning that without swift intervention, vital parts of the not for profit sector could go under, with catastrophic implications for the sector and communities.

They’ve asked all Unite members to write to or use social media to contact their MPs and urge them to put pressure on chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide emergency finances to organisations on the frontline of the pandemic. Find your MP here
Unite the Union will not allow working people to pay for this crisis
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, writes of the need for Unite to ensure the chancellor Rishi Sunak keeps his promise to do "whatever it takes" and continues to stand behind workers and businesses.
They used to be on the naughty step. Now the unions are front of house.
Extract from the Sunday Times 29 March:
Len McCluskey has been fighting multiple battles over the past month. The general secretary of the union Unite has been recovering from a suspected case of coronavirus at home while trying to strike deals to preserve millions of jobs.
He can claim a degree of victory on both fronts. He is over the worst of the virus and has also helped secure the most comprehensive support package for workers in British history - a job-retention scheme in which the state will pay 80% of wages and allow companies to go into hibernation as the virus moves through the country. In one fell swoop, the responsibility to pay wages has swung from the private sector to the state.
Tunnocks halts production
Unite has praised Tunnocks, the Scottish firm famous for its teacakes, after it closed its factory to keep its workers and their families safe and agreed to pay it staff 90 per cent of their wages.

The company made the move, after considering every alternative, to protect their 600 staff against the spread of Covid-19 and allow them to self-isolate.
Mandatory two-metre distance in food processing industry needed urgently
Unite has called on food minister George Eustice to make the two-metre social distancing guidelines for food industry workers mandatory.
We made the call to protect the health and safety of the thousands of members we represent in the food processing sector, after workers walked out of sites in Northern Ireland over serious concerns about the lack of safety procedures, and many other concerns were raised about companies around the UK.
Newham good practice on refuse worker safety
Newham council in London has introduced a no depot attendance rule, agreements on social distancing, allowances for own car use and a daily bin wagon deep clean to protect the safety of refuse workers and in contrast to many refuse contractors and local councils.
Unite has been part of the negotiations to establish the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum which sets guidelines on safe working during the current crisis and is demanding that all contractors and councils follow them.
UPS steps up for pregnant workers
Parcel delivery firm UPS has agreed that all its workers who are pregnant can stay home for the next 12 weeks on full pay, after negotiations with Unite.

“This was a significant win for us and shows how Unite can work constructively with employers,” explained Unite national officer Matt Draper. “We welcome UPS’ swift decision to implement a key call for our workforce.”
Warehouse hears headset concerns after walkout threat
Workers at a warehouse in Barnsley on a contract for retail giant M&S gave their senior Unite rep a standing ovation when he told them management had agreed to stop making them share headsets.

The members threatened to walk off the job after being told that regular cleaning made sharing headsets safe. Managers then agreed to suspend “voice picking” until every worker had their own headset.
Unite welcomes incredible work of Ventilator Challenge Consortium
Unite has hailed the coming together of leading UK manufacturers in a consortium to produce ventilators for the NHS.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said: “The consortium demonstrates the value of cooperation and coordination and is a stark reminder of why it is so important for the UK to maintain and expand its national manufacturing capabilities and capacity, including the skills and knowledge of its world class workforce.”
Unite Praises Royal Mint for medical visor production
Unite Wales has paid tribute to the Royal Mint and its workforce at after the organisation announced it would be manufacturing up to 4,000 medical visors a day. The visors which were designed in house are already being used by NHS staff in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary said: “Unite is extremely proud of our members at the Royal Mint who are coming to the aid of our NHS staff during this time of national crisis.”
Bilfinger reviews redundancies
Unite has welcomed the decision by Bilfinger to review a proposal to make around 100 fabric maintenance workers employed offshore on fixed term contracts redundant, after discussion with the unions.

Following a short but intense period of discussion with the unions, the company has now reviewed their original decision to terminate the employment of these workers and instead to furlough them in line with the government’s Job Retention Scheme.
Court linguists retain pay levels
Unite has been assured by the Ministry of Justice that self-employed court interpreters and translators will not have their pay cut, in spite of a decision by the main agency supplying them to slash wages by 15 per cent.

TheBigWord agency told linguists that their rates would be cut from 23 March, but after Unite’s NUPIT branch wrote to the MoJ in protest, HM Courts and Tribunals Service responded that the agency had given assurances that this reduction did not apply to bookings made under the MoJ contract".
 'Lockdown deal' is a win for workers at Sheffield Students’ Union
Unite has negotiated an agreement with Sheffield Students' Union which ensures hundreds of zero hours staff will receive their wages until mid-April.

The agreement was reached following the shutdown of the University of Sheffield on 17 March in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Unite in the Community
Congratulations to the City Building branches in Scotland - construction and staff side - who have clubbed their branch funds together and raised a massive £1,250 for Cash for Kids to help buy specialist equipment for children to enhance their quality of life during this difficult time.
This is an old picture of the branch, taken long before the social distancing rules.
Unite’s dedicated Coronavirus advice pages, for members and reps

Check out our dedicated web pages which are there to help members and reps during the continually evolving COVID-19 pandemic. For members, the information is designed to provide information about your legal rights at work, as well as details of and links to latest health, benefits and other support measures, including our employment law advice line.

The pages will be updated regularly and according to all new government announcements. They also contain a list of frequently asked questions, including support measures provided by Unite.

Read more
To catch up with all Unite’s statements, stories and actions on #coronavirus go to our News and Events page HERE

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