Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 24 May 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.

17 May 2021

Huge victory at Manchester Go North West as Unite defeats fire and rehire to end strike

Bus drivers at Go North West in Manchester have defeated attempts to fire and rehire them, agreeing a deal which will end one of the country's longest-running industrial disputes.

The deal was presented to a mass meeting of the drivers, members of Unite, held on 17 May at the company’s Queens Road depot. This was followed by a workplace ballot where the union's members voted overwhelmingly to accept the negotiated agreement, bringing to a close the 85-day strike.

Crucially, the company has agreed to Unite's demand that it will never use fire and rehire in any form, a move that will safeguard pay and conditions for thousands of employees across the Go Ahead Group.

19 May 2021

Goodlord’s reputation ‘in tatters’ after three months of fire and rehire strikes and loss of Living Wage accreditation

London lettings services firm Goodlord’s reputation is ‘in tatters’ after more than three months of strike action over £6,000 pay cuts, the hostile targeting of striking workers and the loss of its Living Wage Foundation accreditation.

More than 20 members of Unite, employed in Goodlord’s referencing department, began strike action on 22 February over fire and rehire contract changes that resulted in annual pay falling from £24,000 to £18,000.

Unite is concerned that Goodlord could now seek to attack wages in other areas of the business now that it is not abiding by Living Wage Foundation rates.

Indefinite strike action at Goodlord will continue into the summer. New strikes have been called following the dismissal and hostile targeting of union members while on strike, as well as Goodlord’s use of agency labour during the industrial action.

20 May 2021

DE Banbury plant ‘loses 300 million cups of coffee’ in ‘fire and rehire’ row

The JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) coffee plant in Banbury, Oxfordshire has lost an estimated six million jars of coffee production – or 300 million cups of coffee – as a result of industrial action over its ‘fire and rehire plans’.

Unite said that production at the Ruscote Avenue site was being ground down and warned of possible coffee shortages on UK supermarket shelves of the company’s top brands, such as Tassimo, Kenco and L’OR Coffee.

The dispute, which has already seen two 24-hour strikes and a continuous overtime ban since 1 May, follows the decision by the highly-profitable Dutch-owned company to issue notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees.

21 May 2021

Breakthrough for Thurrock Council workers

Unite members who provided essential services during the height of the pandemic have voted to suspend their six week strike after ongoing talks with Thurrock Council delivered a breakthrough.

Around 90 workers in the waste and recycling department at Thurrock Council have been on strike since the 13 April 2021.

The workers faced losing between £1,200 and £3,800 a year but the council has now made positive changes to the original proposal, which means members will not have a reduction to their pay.

Unite considering all legal options against Goodlord following ‘unfair’ dismissal of striking workers

Unite is considering all legal options against London property services firm Goodlord following its ‘unfair’ dismissal of striking workers on Wednesday 19 May.

Unite members will hold a protest on Tuesday outside Goodlord’s central London headquarters, calling for the workers to be reinstated.

When: Tuesday 25 May 11am

Where: Goodlord, Heneage St, E1 5LN

Unite regional officer, Steve O’Donnell, said: “Goodlord’s leadership has behaved disgracefully from day one of this dispute. They have used the pandemic to opportunistically cut wages by £6,000 and told impacted staff they can survive on the poverty wages by moving out of London and working from home. They have brought in scab workers and hostilely targeted striking staff. They have pretended to join negotiations under Acas and then issued more unacceptable ultimatums.”

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.

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 0800 709 007.