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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 13 July 2020

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 July 2020

Job losses at Reach another example of economic impact of COVID-19

The loss of 550 jobs at newspaper giant Reach is the latest example of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reach, the owner of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express, said it is cutting 12 per cent of its workforce as revenues slumped by nearly 30 per cent in the quarter leading up to June.

5000 aerospace supply chain job losses pushes industry to the precipice

With 24 hours to go before the chancellor delivers his financial statement, Unite is warning that companies in the aerospace supply chain have announced 5,030 redundancies in recent days as work dries up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing the sector to the precipice. 

Without specific measures to shore up the industry, Unite warns that these losses will be a ‘drop in the ocean’.

Aerospace is suffering from a domino effect; with aviation being heavily hit by the pandemic, orders in aerospace have also sharply declined.

8 July 2020

Unite secures deal to prevent Ryanair job losses

Unite has secured an agreement with Ryanair which will result in no job losses among cabin crew at the airline.

The union has hailed the airline's `constructive' approach as being in direct contrast to other employers in the aviation sector.

In May, Ryanair announced that it was planning to cut 3,000 jobs across its European operation as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on the aviation sector.

Since that announcement, Unite has been in talks with Ryanair to ensure that job losses and the potential closure of Ryanair’s bases in the UK were averted.

As part of the negotiations Unite agreed the following measures:

  • Workers will have a temporary tiered pay cut; the lowest paid will have a 5 per cent pay cut, then 7.5 per cent and the highest paid will have a 10 per cent pay cut.
  • The pay cuts will be returned in two tranches in 2023 and 2024.
  • The current pay agreement covering increases in wages will be retained and will be phased in from 2023.
  • There will be a review clause which if Ryanair returns to pre-Covid-19 levels of business earlier, the pay cuts can be reversed earlier. 

Unite’s Len McCluskey on chancellor’s summer statement

Reacting to the chancellor Rishi Sunak's financial statement, Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “No gimmicks, no spin – people wanted serious action today to protect their jobs and incomes and on a scale up to the enormous test before our country. 

“Redundancy notices are already flying around like confetti, so today was the day we needed the chancellor to put a stop to this with policies as bold and as necessary as the Job Retention Scheme (JRS).

“This statement failed that test. With no modification to the JRS, that dreaded October cliff-edge for businesses and workers has now been set in stone. Our fear is that the summer jobs loss tsunami we have been pleading with the government to avoid will now surely only gather pace.

“This was a statement by a chancellor preparing for mass unemployment because he knows that his promised new jobs are a long way off.”

9 July 2020

Unions call on government to use UK steel on COVID-19 recovery infrastructure projects

Britain’s three steel unions, Unite, GMB and Community have launched a joint campaign for the future of the UK steel industry.

Through the ‘Britain, We Need Our Steel’ campaign, the unions are calling for the infrastructure and investment programme announced by Boris Johnson to aid the country’s economic recovery from coronavirus to use steel produced in Britain to support the industry.

Unite Assistant General Secretary, Steve Turner, said: “The UK steel industry is central to any post COVID-19 recovery and rebuild strategy – supporting new infrastructure build from hospitals and schools to rail and energy generation.

“It is ready to provide the steel to renew our naval fleet and transition our auto industry to electric vehicles. UK steel is playing its part in global efforts to green our economy, capturing its emissions and investing in shared technologies to protect the long-term security of our planet.

“Today we come together as an industry with one voice to celebrate its contribution to supporting the UK economy as well as thousands of jobs and communities across our regions. Please join us by supporting our campaign to see UK steel and our wider manufacturing sector centre stage in an industrial strategy to build back better.”

GE job losses reinforce urgent need for a financial package to support UK manufacturing

The government can no longer stand on the side lines as the latest blow to British industry came when another leading aerospace company GE announced a total of 769 job losses at its plants in Scotland and Wales.

A total of 323 jobs have gone through a voluntary redundancy process, with another 446 compulsory redundancies proposed today.

Unite said that the gloss had quickly come off Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget which had done precious little for UK manufacturing, now bearing much of the brunt of the gathering storm of job losses.

A total of 498 redundancies are proposed at GE Aviation Wales, Nantgarw, Cardiff and 271 at GE Caledonian, Prestwick – a 40 per cent reduction in the workforce between March and September this year.

Unite reiterated that jobs being lost from manufacturing is the human price for not putting in place a comprehensive range of short to medium term measures, such as short-term working, to support the sector, similar to those adopted by the UK’s economic competitors, France and Germany. 

Unite won't back Construction COVID procedures until PPE and hygiene failings addressed

Unite will not support the latest version of the Construction Leadership Council’s site operating procedures (SOP) unless major safety failings and potentially illegalities are addressed.

Unite has warned that advice relating to the use and supply of PPE when a two-metre distance cannot be maintained, and the wrong and potentially illegal information regarding site deliveries, will fail workers.

The union is particularly concerned that face coverings, possibly homemade and not the safer face masks, are being suggested as appropriate and adequate protection for workers operating at close quarters to one another. 

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.

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

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.