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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 16 August 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.

10 August 2021

DHL workers at JLR plants prepare for strike ballot over wage arrears and 'insulting' pay offer

DHL workers at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plants in the West Midlands and Merseyside are preparing to be balloted for strike action over wage arrears and an ‘insulting’ pay offer.

Hundreds of DHL drivers and warehouse operatives have been plagued by incorrect pay slips for months due to the company’s use of flexible furlough, with some staff owed up to £800 in arrears.

Anger at the arrears ‘debacle’ has been further stoked by DHL’s refusal to offer a reasonable rise during recent pay negotiations with Unite.

The union will now begin the process of balloting its more than 2,000 DHL members for strike action at JLR’s plants in Halewood, Castle Bromwich, Solihull, Tyrefort, Midpoint and Hams Hall.

11 August 2021

Adapt furlough to meet skills shortage and save thousands from immediate unemployment

With six weeks to go until the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), Unite is calling on the government to think again to avert immediate job losses and growing poverty for hundreds of thousands of working people.

The CJRS, also known as the furlough scheme, is set to end altogether on 30 September. At its peak, it provided wage support for over 11 million UK workers.

Unite, which played a central role in negotiating the scheme, says that in July around two million workers were still on the scheme, more than had been anticipated, reflecting the continuing troubles for parts of the workforce and underlines that the economy is yet to recover from the crisis.

Furloughed workers are currently receiving 80 per cent of their wages, with 60 per cent paid by the government and 20 per cent from their employer.  When this support ends in September, those still unable to return to work will be forced onto Universal Credit, a system that takes five weeks to provide any sort of income beyond a loan, and where the financial support is among the worst in the developed world. 

Threat of ‘beer drought’ mounts as GXO draymen vote to stage industrial action over ‘paltry’ pay offer

The threat of a late-summer beer drought moved closer as about 1,000 draymen who deliver top brands, such as Heineken, voted for industrial action over a ‘paltry’ pay offer.

Unite said there will be two 24-hour strikes, the first starting at 10.00 on Tuesday 24 August and then at 10.00 on Thursday 2 September. This will be accompanied by an overtime ban and work to rule starting on 24 August and continuing up to Monday 15 November.

The workers’ anger over the pay offer has been exacerbated by them losing between £8,000 and £10,000 over the last year due to furlough and lack of overtime, coupled with no pay increase for 2020. Unite had offered a manageable inflation increase which the company then rejected.

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.