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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 13 December 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.

7 December 2021

Unite calls on Peers to oppose the Health and Care Bill

Unite wrote to all Peers urging them to oppose the Health and Care Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday, 7 December. The letter set out Unite's concerns about the Bill, dubbed the NHS "Privatisation Bill", and urged Peers to "protect our NHS".

The letter also set out a series of amendments that the Lords should make to address the worst aspects of the Bill, including ensuring that NHS suppliers/providers are the default providers of NHS services.

Read the letter in full here.

08 December 2021

Fire and rehire: Building supplies company Marshalls branded Scrooge employer as workers face Christmas dismissal

The leading building supplies company Marshalls has been labelled the ultimate Scrooge employer for threatening to fire and rehire over 1,500 workers this Christmas.

Marshalls has issued the redundancy notices, which relate to changes to shift patterns, without even attempting to enter into negotiations with Unite.

In the past 18 months a large number of companies, including household names such as British Airways and Weetabix, have attempted to use the cover of the COVID pandemic to fire and rehire workers in order to reduce pay and cut conditions.

The surprise announcement by Marshalls to fire and rehire its workforce was made just two days before Unite was due to enter into negotiations with the company about bank holiday pay issues at the conciliation service Acas.

09 December 2021

Government must act right away to prevent disruption in schools

Support staff, teachers, school leaders and families are uniting to urge the government to better protect pupils and staff from COVID in schools in the lead up to Christmas.

With increased uncertainty due to increasing cases of the omicron variant and classroom absences rising, four education unions - UNISON, GMB, Unite and NASUWT - are calling on the government to act without delay to minimise disruption by introducing additional safety measures.

The unions want ministers to provide schools with air filtration devices for use wherever airflow problems are detected and make face masks mandatory in all areas of secondary schools.

Urgent government action needed to properly protect workers following plan B announcement

Unite is calling on the government to introduce effective measures to ensure that workers who cannot work from home are protected following the announcement that it is implementing Plan B, as a result of the rise of the omicron variant.

Although the government has instructed workers who can do so to work from home, that does not apply to the majority of Unite’s members who will still be expected to work normally, in sectors including: automotive, construction, food production, passenger transport, logistics and healthcare.

The government has provided little or no information to employers and workers in these sectors to ensure that the danger of at work transmission is minimised.

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.