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

6 September 2021

Lancashire and Liverpool face Stagecoach bus strikes this autumn

Parts of Lancashire and Liverpool could face severe disruption this autumn if bus workers employed by Ribble Motor Services Ltd, part of the Stagecoach group, vote for strike action over pay.

The company is refusing to make a pay offer which in anyway meets members aspirations for the current financial year and is blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for its actions.

Despite Stagecoach pleading poverty, the company remains extremely profitable, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic its latest accounts reveal that the group made a profit of £58.4 million and it has £875 million of available liquidity.

In addition to a substantial pay increase, the workers are also seeking an improvement in sick pay as the pandemic has demonstrated when workers are ill they must be able to afford to isolate in order to keep colleagues safe.

7 September 2021

‘Wealth’ tax should be mobilised to pay for social care reform

The money to ‘fix’ the decades-old problem of social care requires a wider tax base to finance it rather than concentrating on National Insurance that hits the incomes of working people.

Unite said that measures such as a ‘wealth’ tax on property and unearned income were a fairer way to properly finance the shortcomings in the social care system which had been cruelly exposed during the continuing 18-month COVID crisis.

Unite said that that any solution to social care needed to go ‘hand-in-hand’ with a massive cash injection for the NHS, which has more than five million patients waiting for treatments such as cancer and hip replacements.

8 September 2021

Weetabix workers in Northamptonshire announce autumn walkouts over £5,000 fire and rehire wage cuts

Production of some of the nation's favourite breakfast cereals will be hit when engineers employed by Weetabix at its Northamptonshire factories begin walk outs this month in opposition to the company’s plans to fire and rehire them on vastly inferior contracts.

The workers based at the company’s factories in Kettering and Corby face changes to their shift and working patterns which would result in some workers being up to £5,000 a year worse off.

Unite will begin a series of 48 hour strikes on Tuesday 21 September followed by strikes on the same day every week throughout the autumn with the final strike scheduled to begin on Tuesday 30 November.

The strikes will cause widespread delays to production and lead to shortages of Weetabix and other popular products made at the factories including Alpen, Weetos and Oatibix.

9 September 2021

Unite backs new law to close employment loopholes by providing universal workers’ rights

Unite is supporting a new parliamentary bill to be debated in the House of Lords that would give “all rights to all workers from day one”.

Lord John Hendy QC’s Status of Workers Bill addresses a critical issue for trade union members – the different legal categories of “worker” and the different rights that come with them.

Depending on whether a worker is classified as an “employee”, “self-employed”, a “limb worker” or someone with a “personal service company”, the protections they have against bad bosses can vary enormously.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “It's a disgrace that millions of UK workers are the victims of inadequate labour laws which have more holes in them than Swiss cheese. Passing this bill is an absolute necessity for Britain’s workers and MPs and those in the House of Lords ought to recognise that.

“COVID has emboldened bad bosses who are using the pandemic to redouble their attacks on workers’ jobs, pay and conditions. I will not hesitate to use every tool at Unite’s disposal to fend off these attacks and advance the jobs, pay and conditions of our union’s members.”

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.