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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 01 November 2021

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.

25 October 2021

Weetabix ‘fire and rehire’ protests held at supermarkets nationwide

Protests against Weetabix’s plans to launch ‘fire and rehire’ attacks on its factory engineers will be held at supermarkets across the UK.

Unite, whose members at the company’s Kettering and Corby factories are striking over the plans, said supermarket shoppers should be aware of just how tarnished Weetabix’s reputation has become.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Weetabix believes it can steamroll a loyal and hardworking staff into accepting worse wages, pensions and conditions by threatening them with the sack. Weetabix’s management must be learning this kind of ‘take it or leave it’ industrial relations from their American owners. Unite won’t accept that.”

26 October 2021

Drivers and assistants taking disabled children to school in Hackney to hold strike ballot over council ‘brush off’

Drivers and passenger assistants who take disabled children to and from school in Hackney are being balloted for strike action in the continuing failure of council bosses to recognise their efforts as key workers during the pandemic.

Unite said Hackney council in east London has ‘brushed off’ the union’s repeated attempts to gain recognition for its members’ role as key workers during the continuing COVID crisis.

Now the 37 drivers and passenger assistants will be balloted from Monday 1 November on whether they wish to take strike action. The ballot closes on Tuesday 30 November.

27 October 2021

Unite leader Sharon Graham’s response to the Budget

Responding to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement, Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “The chancellor’s statement today makes it clear that the government wants workers to pay for the pandemic. Their incomes are under attack from tax rises and inflation while the super-rich will continue to prosper. That is not acceptable.

“So, workers will need unions more than ever. Union members consistently get higher pay than non-members and Unite the union will be fighting to improve our members’ real wages in the face of these attacks.”

29 October 2021

GB Terminals ‘underhand’ redundancy plans for Sheerness Volkswagen dockers ‘sneaky precursor to fire and rehire’

‘Underhand’ plans to fire 50 GB Terminals workers who unload and process Volkswagens at Sheerness docks in Kent have been slammed as a ‘sneaky precursor to fire and rehire’ by Unite.

The redundancies amount to a staffing reduction of 75 per cent and will leave the company’s Sheerness operations unable to function.

Unite regional officer, Phil Silkstone, said: “We know there is enough work at Sheerness to keep people on and GB Terminals has given no reason for these redundancies or indication that is it closing its operations at the docks. That's why we believe this is a sneaky precursor to fire and rehire.

“GB Terminals is running down the clock on the consultation period. We think management will then offer workers the choice of redundancy or signing new contracts on reduced pay, terms and conditions.”

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 visit the Unite Legal Services coronavirus COVID-19 page, or call Unite’s dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 Legal Advice Line on 0333 202 6557.

COVID-19 personal injury claims

Unite has set up a specialist legal team to advise and represent members who have suffered injury as a result of COVID-19

If you have suffered injury from developing COVID-19, or have tragically lost a family member to the condition, then please call Unite’s COVID-19 PI team on 020 8799 4023.