Unite Legal Services: Coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 6 April 2020

red rectangle on cream background with black text  CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

At Unite Legal Services, we’ve collated the latest news and information regarding employment matters and workers’ rights in relation to coronavirus COVID-19 developments.

31 March 2020:

Many home-visiting health visitors and community nurses still without PPE 

Unite urged the government to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is being provided to health visitors and community nurses going into the homes of families with children and babies.

Unite also wants PPE to go to the thousands of staff who are working in social care settings, such as care homes, who feel that they have been forgotten by ministers.

Gail Cartmail, Unite Assistant General Secretary, said: “Health visitors and community nurses need PPE equipment today as they offer high-level professional advice on home visits to the parents of tomorrow’s generation of adults.”

1 April 2020:

Government risks lorry driver shortage during COVID-19 crisis, unless medical rules are relaxed

Unite, which represents thousands of lorry drivers, warned that 10 to 20 per cent of drivers could be forced off the road unless the government relaxes the requirement for HGV drivers to have a medical during the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.

For valid safety reasons, Unite has long championed the absolute requirement that drivers have regular medicals. However, due to the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, it believes that a short relaxation is required as a temporary and short-term measure.

Lack of testing for front-line workers sees UK government under fire

A lack of equipment for front-line health workers in the UK saw the government come under huge criticism as Unite said that government cuts to the NHS supply chain was causing hospital PPE delays, and that they needed to be reversed.

2 April 2020:

Unite comes to employment agreement with British Airways

Unite reached an agreement with British Airways about how workers will be protected during the coronavirus crisis.

British Airways will introduce a modified version of the government’s current job retention scheme, ensuring that workers can be furloughed on 80 per cent of their pay with no cap on earnings. There will also be no redundancies or unpaid temporary lay-offs.

3 April 2020:

A message from Len McCluskey

Unite’s General Secretary recorded a message for members about the current coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, reinforcing the message that officers, organisers and reps are doing everything in their power to support members surrounding their safety at work, job security and wages.  

Unite statement on whistleblowing in the NHS during the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis

Unite issued a statement reassuring members working in the NHS that they will receive maximum support from their union should they face disciplinary measures for raising legitimate concerns about their working conditions.

4 April 2020:

New Labour leader and deputy announced

Keir Starmer was named as the new leader of the Labour Party, with Angela Rayner announced as deputy. Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, released a statement of warm congratulations to both.

Five London bus workers die as a result of coronavirus

After the tragic news that five London bus workers have died from the virus, Unite offered support to the families of the workers that have died. 


Get more support

For more information on how we are fighting to protect the health and safety, and economic stability of our members during the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, please visit the Unite the Union advice hub.

If you are in need of further advice on an employment law query during the crisis, you can navigate to the Unite Legal Services coronavirus COVID-19 page, or call Unite’s dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 Legal Advice Line on 0333 202 6557.

For more information on coronavirus COVID-19 related benefits queries, Unite has set up a dedicated benefits advice line which members can access by calling 0333 202 6563.