Unite the union
28 March 2020
Issue 3
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, so this regular newsletter will keep 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, sign petitions and try to take any other actions we ask of you.
Unite the Union will not allow working people to pay for this crisis
"Let there be no doubt that Unite will use the full force of the law, including unfair dismissal actions, to stop companies using the pandemic to shed workers".
Len McCluskey writes for Labour List.
McCluskey: End bogus self-employment to make your support scheme work
The government could bring economic security to millions of precarious workers by ending ‘bogus self-employment' and declaring their employee status, Len McCluskey said in response to the chancellor's package to support these workers.
He said that by far the most effective way to give many of these workers the economic security they need is to end the abusive status that is bogus self-employment.

"Ministers can do that at the stroke of a pen, declaring these workers employees and so bringing them into the furlough scheme where they can access up to 80 per cent of their incomes."
Unite in Action
Safety, jobs and wages
Northern Ireland workers walk out
A thousand workers at the Moy Park chicken processing site in Portadown walked off the job after the biggest employer in Northern Ireland failed to provide basic health and safety protections to its workforce. It took just an hour until their employer gave enough assurances they would implement the government's measures in full to enable the Unite members to return to work, for now at least.

They were followed by workers at ABP Meats in Lurgan, also demanding enforcement of two metre social distancing and other measures to keep workers as separated as possible, along with deep-cleans of work stations where workers have self-isolated with coronavirus symptoms. They returned the following day after receiving a series of assurances.

And as #HereforYou went to press, workers at Linden Foods walked off the job, refusing shifts due to inadequate distancing, PPE and other serious safety concerns being ignored by management.
Wirral bin workers vote for strikes but won't walkout during coronavirus crisis
Biffa Waste Services workers who voted overwhelmingly for strike action have confirmed they won’t walkout during the coronavirus crisis.

The Unite members working on Wirral council’s refuse contract called on their employer, which caused the dispute by refusing to meet the union’s pay claim and trying to move from weekly to monthly pay without consultation, to not waste the time the delay provided to engage in meaningful negotiations.
Unite campaign secures free hospital parking
A campaign by Unite’s health sector has secured a commitment from the government to cover the costs of free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals.

Unite started a petition on the TUC’s petition platform Megaphone for all NHS Trust’s in England and Scotland to abolish car parking charges for NHS staff and outsourced NHS workers. The Department of Health and Social Care then engaged with health unions and swiftly announced that hospital car parking for frontline staff would be now be free.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was quick to tweet congratulations to Unite.
 Self-employed taxi drivers call for support package
Unite has written to the Department of Transport asking for immediate support for the thousands of self-employed taxi drivers across the UK who have faced a massive drop off in demand due to coronavirus.

Unite cab driver members also asked to explore further the prime minister’s suggestion that taxis could be used to ferry NHS workers between home-and-hospital, saying that they are ideally suited professionally for this role.
STOP PRESS: Unite launches petition calling on the government to give taxi drivers the wage support they need now, not in June.
Unite welcomes First Glasgow COVID-19 Agreement
Unite Scotland has secured a COVID-19 agreement with First Glasgow, providing job security for nearly 3,000 drivers and bus workers by introducing different working practices.

Unite initiated talks with First Glasgow, part of First Bus, in order to implement a reduced working pattern which will mean two weeks on and two weeks off and welcomed the employer’s responsible approach.

Read more
Send home Shirebrook workers on full pay,
Unite tells Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley
Unite has written to Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley outlining a catalogue of shocking examples of the company flouting the government’s guidelines for keeping workers safe during this national emergency, and demanding that he close the Shirebrook warehouse and send the workforce home on full pay.

The examples include threatening to sack workers who self-isolate because they have underlying health conditions, not enforcing social distancing and not providing sanitising products.
Faurecia Interiors must stop ‘terrifying’ workers
Faurecia Interiors is ‘terrifying’ laid-off workers by refusing to inform them whether they will be registered under the government’s scheme to pay workers 80 per cent of their wages.

Unite has demanded that the automotive supply chain firm registers its workers under the furlough scheme as soon as possible and make it clear to them they are doing so.
Carluccio’s accused of cynical wage theft during coronavirus crisis
Unite has written to failing Italian restaurant chain Carluccio's demanding it reverses the decision to cut pay and instead ensure staff receive full pay and holiday pay to 22 March. 
Unite database
Unite continues to compile a central database of good and bad practice among employers, to help inform our negotiations with them on issues arising from the pandemic.

We’ll be highlighting more of the good, the bad and the plain ugly across our social media and in future editions of this newsletter.
A heartfelt thanks from the General Secretary
Unite general secretary sends heartfelt thanks to our reps and stewards.
Unite in the community
Alleviating the pressure
The North Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Branch donated £500 to Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes, which are working to take pressure away from some core NHS services during the crisis.
Blood Bikes are a voluntary organisation who transport blood, medicines and breast milk, amongst other things, around the Hospitals of Lincolnshire via motorbike. This is done at no cost to the hospital, and the service relies completely on donations.
Foodbank donation
Offshore workers have been delivered food and household products to a Trussell Trust food bank.

Food bank volunteers were delighted when Unite branch SC/156 Bilfinger Salamis Offshore secretary Phil Munro and chair Tam Hunter delivered 156 kilograms of goods on behalf of all the branch members, while keeping a safe social distance. 
Liverpool cabbies say thanks
Gary Flack, a Liverpool taxi driver and Unite member, recorded a video on behalf of him and a group of colleagues saying thanks to frontline NHS workers, who they have been giving free fares to. This clip was shown on BBC’s the One Show last Thursday night 🔽
Home school with Unite

Why not take advantage of free home learning courses offered by learnwithuniteduring these testing times? These offer support for members and their children now engaged in home schooling, including Wranx drills in English and Maths and a range of Litmos Heroes courses which include reams of resources such as workbooks, video clips, infographics and posters.

Learn more

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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