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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 12 April 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.

06 April 2021

Coffee giant faces consumer backlash over threat to ‘fire and rehire’ 300 Banbury workers

Coffee-drinking supermarket customers will be a key element in the ‘fire and rehire’ dispute affecting nearly 300 employees at the JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) site in Banbury, Oxfordshire, as the firm faces reputational damage due to its high-handed tactics.

Unite warned that the nation’s coffee drinkers needed to have confidence that the products - Tassimo, Kenco and L’OR Coffee - they were buying were produced by a firm with excellent ethical standards.

Unite’s members are currently voting on whether to take industrial action, with the option to strike, in response to the Dutch-owned company issuing notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees. The ballot closes on Thursday 15 April.

07 April 2021

Unite welcomes extra support for taxi trade by Aberdeen City Council

Unite Scotland has welcomed news of a ‘top-up’ grant for the taxi trade by Aberdeen City Council. As one of Scotland’s largest cities the financial support for taxi drivers through a discretionary top-up of £1,000 is welcome news following the collapse of the taxi trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support is in addition to a £1,500 grant, which has already been paid out to eligible license holders, and allocated from the Scottish government’s Local Authorities Discretionary Fund which awarded £6m to the local authority.

The news follows Dundee City Council’s recent announcement to also open a £1,000 grant for taxi and private hire drivers. In Angus Council, taxi drivers will get an additional £2,500 financial support grant on top of the initial £1,500 grant made available.

08 April 2021

Life Residential and Featherstone Leigh estate agents ‘facing further pain’ with fresh Goodlord strike ballot

London estate agents using services from Goodlord are ‘facing further pain’ after striking workers from the lettings software provider were balloted for fresh industrial action over £6,000 pay cuts.

More than 20 members of Unite who are employed in Goodlord’s referencing department have been on strike since 22 February over fire and rehire plans that would see their pay plummet from £24,000 to £18,000.

Goodlord provides services for a number of estate agents in London, including Life Residential, Best Estate Agents, Andrews and Featherstone Leigh.

The ballot for another round of strike action takes into account not just the pay cuts, but the dismissal and hostile targeting of union members while on strike, as well as Goodlord’s use of agency labour during the industrial action. It opens on 14 April and closes on 26 April.

09 April 2021

Travel testing plans coupled with lack of sector support will further harm aviation jobs and industry

Commenting on the government’s plan to force holidaymakers to pay around £120 each for COVID tests to travel abroad this summer, Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said:  "We recognise that strict testing measures need to be in place for travel in and out of the country to protect people’s health and rebuild confidence. However, the plans in their current form need improving and to be delivered alongside a wider package of aviation industry support. 

"The bill for testing each traveller will run into hundreds of pounds extra on top of the cost of a holiday for families wanting to travel this summer. Households on lower incomes will basically be COVID-taxed out of a much-needed break. This would not only be unfair but harmful for a travel industry desperately in need of recovery.

"UK ministers have paid lip service to providing aviation support but left the sector’s workers to pay a disproportionate price. The government must now provide an urgent package of support to ensure the aviation sector, which is crucial to the UK’s economic recovery, is able to take off again.”

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.