Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 14 April 2020

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 April 2020:

Bristol bus worker coronavirus death renews call for stringent hygiene regime across the bus industry

The death of a Bristol bus worker, due to coronavirus, reinforced Unite’s call for the introduction of the most stringent hygiene regime in the UK bus industry, as Regional Secretary, Steve Preddy, paid tribute to member, Martin Egan.

7 April 2020:

London buses: New safety measures introduced but more still needed

Unite, which represents over 20,000 London bus workers, confirmed an agreement with TfL to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure to the workforce, but says that further action is needed. Eight bus workers have died of the disease.

8 April 2020:

Unite members overwhelmingly back British Airways furlough deal

Unite members employed by British Airways overwhelmingly approved a furlough deal for airline workers. The agreement includes a modified job retention scheme, seeing workers furloughed on 80 per cent of pay with no cap on earnings. There will also be no unpaid temporary layoffs.

Following a ballot of the union's members at the airline, Unite members voted by 99 per cent in favour of the deal.

Unite Assistant General Secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “Unite members at British Airways have recognised the seriousness of the situation facing the aviation sector during this unprecedented crisis, and so have voted to accept the deal negotiated by their union.”

9 April 2020:

Unite highlights bad behavior in hospitality industry

Unite reveals that mounting evidence suggests unscrupulous bosses in the hospitality industry are using the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to short-change staff and add worse terms and conditions into contracts.

The worst offenders identified by Unite so far include Hard Rock Café, JD Wetherspoon, glh Hotels Ltd, Queen Margaret Union and Firmdale Hotels.

Umbrella company workers eligible for furlough payments following Unite lobbying

Following extensive lobbying from Unite the union, the UK government confirmed that umbrella company employees are in scope of the job retention scheme, ensuring the pay of over 300,000 workers is secure.

10 April 2020:

Unite calls for the appointment of a PPE cabinet minister

Amid mounting concerns that workers on the front line, such as those in the NHS and social care settings, are not receiving the PPE kit they need, Unite called for the appointment of a PPE cabinet minister to direct the efforts of PPE procurement and coronavirus testing.

Steve Turner, Unite's Assistant General Secretary for Manufacturing, said: 

"The most effective way to cut through this dysfunction would be for the PM – or in his absence, the cabinet - to appoint a Minister for Testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Procurement. 

"This minister – reporting directly to the PM – would have overarching responsibility for bringing together the ministries of government, to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape, a minister to join up the dots, make decisions with authority and clout.”

13 April 2020:

Unite wins wage security for redundant Carluccio’s workers

Unite has secured clarification that the government’s job retention scheme can be used by companies in administration during the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, Unite is calling on Carluccio’s workers, who were left out of work in March when the chain went into administration, to get in touch with their union or respond to the administrator’s offer to access the scheme.

Unite’s Assistant General Secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “Time was running out for some of our members in Carluccio’s. They faced the prospect of being dumped out of work this weekend.

“In taking this action, Unite has secured them some wage security. It is now essential that all those Carluccio's workers who have either not received a letter or not responded to the letter from the administrator get in touch with their union, Unite, or the administrator immediately to ensure they are not dismissed and lose out on the opportunity that this court judgement has ensured.”

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.