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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 2 November 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.

26 October 2020

Unite statement on talks with energy giant E.ON over ‘restructuring’

Unite confirmed that it was in ‘restructuring’ talks with energy giant, E.ON, which could result in job losses.

The talks, which also involve other energy trade unions, come in the wake of E.ON acquiring Npower last year and the impact of COVID-19 on the business.

Unite officer with responsibility for E.ON retail, Katie Morris, said: “Unite can confirm that it is in talks, along with the other energy unions, with the management of E.ON over restructuring plans.

“The talks are against a background of the harmonisation of the services offered by E.ON since it acquired Npower. The restructuring process has been accelerated by the impact of COVID-19 on its business model.

“We expect an announcement next month on possible job losses. Unite’s position is that any job losses in the future should be voluntary and not of a compulsory nature.”

27 October 2020

Welsh Government urged to step in as closure of Saltney storage locker production site threatens 55 jobs

The Welsh Government has been asked to step in to help save the storage locker production plant at Saltney which is set to close in January 2021 with the loss of 55 jobs.

Unite branded the Whittan Group’s decision to close the profitable Saltney site in the new year as ‘an act of industrial vandalism’.

Unite believes that it was always the company’s intention to close the site following its acquisition in 2016 to relocate work to its Telford headquarters in Shropshire.

Unite said that the news was ‘a bitter pill’ for its members, especially after their efforts in supporting the battle against coronavirus by manufacturing the storage lockers for the Nightingale hospitals.

28 October 2020

Heathrow’s cash mountain should be used to help staff threatened by ‘fire and rehire’

Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) needs to dip into its cash mountain to protect airport jobs during the pandemic, after its boss boasted that it had reserves for the next 15 months ‘even if we had no passengers’.

HAL chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said that the company had cash reserves to carry it through the next two years at least - 15 months with no passengers using the airport which was not expected to happen. This was despite posting a £1.5bn loss in the first nine months of this year.

Unite said that HAL had got its priorities wrong with generous pay-outs to shareholders, including the Qatari royal family, one of the world’s wealthiest families, and well-padded remuneration packages for top HAL executives.

Instead, HAL has issued notices to ‘fire and rehire’ staff on vastly inferior pay and conditions which will mean workers losing up to £8,000 per annum – about 25 per cent of their pay. The proposals will affect about 4,000 workers employed by HAL.

29 October 2020

Aviation unions warn Scottish government: “Doing nothing is not an option” in fight for jobs

Aviation unions have warned the Scottish government that “doing nothing is not an option” as thousands of airport jobs are threatened by redundancy and cuts with the end of the furlough scheme.

GMB Scotland Organiser, Bob Deavy, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the long-standing need for Scotland to have a proper jobs plan, something we’ve never had since devolution, and aviation has a huge part to play in that.

“The Scottish government has said the UK government must do more, it is right, but it also means it must drop its own ambiguities that could help the sector recover post-COVID, like support for a Heathrow third runway and the jobs and connectivity boost this would give Scotland."

31 October 2020

As furlough scheme ends Government must bring forward plan for protection of health, jobs and incomes

As the Job Retention Scheme closes, the leader of Unite called on the government to give an exhausted country some hope by bringing forward a plan for the protection of health, jobs and incomes.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, said: "With no certainty that this hideous virus can be brought under control in the near future, and millions of UK people living under further restrictions, we once more appeal to the prime minister to do more for the country's workers. The absence of any concerted government plan to protect jobs and incomes is compounding the suffering caused by this disease.

"Our communities face a winter of shrunken incomes and punishing uncertainty, so we call upon the government to flex the vast muscles of the state to invest against rampaging unemployment and the human misery that entails.

"Give us the plan which shows that this government grasps the urgency of this moment and that it is prepared to be proactive in preventing industrial destruction and mass poverty.”

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.