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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 11 October 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.

04 October 2021

Unite's NHS England members reject government’s pay award by 90 per cent as campaign of action builds

Health service members of Unite in England have voted by 90 per cent to reject the government’s ‘grossly inadequate’ three per cent pay award for this year.

Unite will now plan for a comprehensive programme of targeted industrial action in the coming months as the RPI rate of inflation increased to 4.8 per cent.

The consultative ballot comes against a backdrop of an exhausted workforce who have battled COVID for the last 20 months and have seen, in many cases, a 19 per cent pay drop in real terms since the Tories took power in 2010.

05 October 2021

Britvic and Coca Cola facing bottle shortages during Wigan plastic manufacturer pay strikes

Pay strikes at Wigan plastic manufacturer Alpla UK could lead to bottle shortages for Coca Cola and Britvic.

Nearly 150 factory workers will strike during October and November at Alpla UK’s Golborne factory in response to an ‘insulting’ two per cent pay offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “With a turnover of £200 million and operating profits of £21 million, Alpla should be offering more than an insulting two per cent pay rise to the workers who kept operations flowing during the pandemic.”

06 October 2021

Unite council staff ‘support industrial action’, after voting overwhelmingly to reject ‘insulting’ 1.75 per cent pay offer

Unite’s local government staff have voted overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot to reject the ‘insulting’ pay offer of 1.75 per cent and are supportive of taking industrial action for pay justice.

Unite’s 70,000 local government members voted by 81 per cent to reject the 1.75 per cent offer earmarked for council staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland made by the Local Government Association (with 2.75 per cent for those on the bottom pay point) for 2021/22. Of the 81 per cent voting to reject the offer, 85 per cent were ‘supportive’ of taking industrial action.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members have made a huge contribution to keep public services running during the continuing COVID crisis. They have held our services together at a time of national emergency. This resounding vote shows their anger at this insulting offer.”

08 October

Chronic staff shortages at Guy's and St Thomas' confirm NHS funding crisis is harming patient care

Chronic staff shortages, concerns about patient safety and plunging morale at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust are the key findings of a staff survey carried out by Unite.

Unite warned that the ‘shocking’ findings at the London trust which treated Boris Johnson for coronavirus could well be mirrored across other NHS trusts in England.

Unite's survey of 188 critical care staff (nurses and technical) found:

  • 93 per cent of staff reported understaffing in their unit every shift
  • 100 per cent of staff reported staff wellbeing was affected by understaffing
  • 98 per cent of staff said they felt understaffing made their unit unsafe.

Unite warns that concerns for patient safety come amid a recruitment and retention crisis with vacancies running at an estimated 90,000, waiting lists soaring to 5.4 million in England, further privatisation, and a winter where flu and COVID cases are set to be widespread. 

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.