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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 28 June 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.

21 June 2021

Amazon workers are key workers and should have trade union rights

A new poll reveals strong support for Unite’s campaign to secure trade union rights for directly employed Amazon workers and for workers in the gig economy, while firmly opposing Amazon’s anti-trade union tactics.

The poll of 2,000 UK residents conducted by Survation also revealed that the public are now likely to view Amazon workers as “key workers” by a margin of 2:1 as a result of their work through the health crisis.

Almost half of respondents say they have changed their view of Amazon workers and now value them more than they did before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Steel workers watching as government must stabilise cornerstone industry

Unite is urging the government to take immediate action to stabilise the steel industry.

Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said: “Steel is a foundation industry which requires direct government support as it as a strategic asset.

"But there is a real danger that a combination of ideology and the wrong political choices will open the gates to cheap imports, which will cost thousands of skilled jobs and devastate local communities.

 “The UK’s steel industry is essential to the UK’s post COVID-19 recovery, providing the steel needed to build hospitals, schools, rail and electric vehicles.

 “In order for the industry to thrive it requires stability and a level playing field, and the truth is successive governments have failed to provide the stability the industry needs.”

23 June 2021

Unite urges Welsh government to implement “significant” pay increase for NHS staff

Unite, along with eight other NHS Unions, met with the Welsh health minister, Eluned Morgan, to present a joint letter requesting an urgent and significant pay rise for NHS staff in Wales.

Richard Munn, Unite lead officer for health, commented: “Unite’s pay claim is for 15 per cent or £3,000 - whichever is greater. The Welsh nation recognises that NHS workers are the heroes of this pandemic and it is time that their contribution to our society is properly recognised.”

Construction Industry Training Board mired in furlough pay debacle

Over 100 employees employed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have lodged a collective grievance raised by Unite and GMB against the organisation in respect of unresolved furlough pay issues dating as far back as the spring of 2020.

Employees expected to receive 80 per cent of their salary whilst furloughed, however major errors occurred between CITB and its payroll provider SSCL that led to significant errors of both under and overpayments of salaries.

CITB has been attempting to resolve these pay issues since autumn 2020 and early in 2021 even contracted a third party to investigate and resolve the problems.

Despite this, the CITB’s board remains unable to resolve the problem and it issued an internal communication earlier this month stating matters will not be resolved until September.

Failure to support low paid and vulnerable to isolate "act of gross negligence"

The failure to support the low paid and vulnerable to isolate has been an act of gross negligence, Unite said in response to the TUC's demand for a living sick pay for all.

Steve Turner, Unite’s assistant general secretary who led negotiations for Unite with the TUC on the furlough agreement for workers, said: “The failure to support the low paid and vulnerable to isolate has been an act of gross negligence. The government was told time and again that sick pay is too low and too rarely available. Workers going sick can expect only £96 a week to survive on, less than £14 a day to keep them and their families - and even this cannot be expected as two million workers earn too little to even qualify for this pitiful sum of money.”

24 June 2021

Government must provide immediate support for aviation sector following travel announcement

The government’s announcement on international travel, that a small number of additional countries have been added to the UK’s green travel list, must lead to the government providing sector specific support for the aviation industry, or tens of thousands of workers face losing their jobs this autumn, Unite has warned.

Unite is calling for the government to introduce three specific policies to ensure that the aviation sector can survive the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Transparency – in the government’s traffic light scheme so that the industry can better understood how the criteria is being applied to the data in ministerial decision making.
  • Logistics – when aviation does open up, funding and resources are needed to avoid operational challenges. For example, how long queues at check in whilst passengers are showing their proof of vaccination and test results can be avoided, and how big queues at arrivals and the prospect of mixing passengers from different countries will be dealt with.
  • CJRS – Sector specific extension so that aviation can survive an increasingly bleak looking summer and autumn and still exist into 2022 without more redundancies, pay cuts and even company collapses.

25 June 2021

Two weeks of talks to resolve Banbury coffee workers ‘fire and rehire’ dispute

Unite the union and the management of JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) will be holding two weeks of intensive talks in a bid to resolve the ‘fire and rehire’ dispute at the plant in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Unite will now suspend the industrial action that has been running since the beginning of May for the next fortnight, while JDE has agreed to push back the implementation of ‘fire and rehire’ plans affecting 291 employees until 13 September.

Unite: "This rotten government is making millionaires out of its mates with our money - Labour, find your voice and oppose it"

A leading trade union figure is calling for the COVID inquiry to be brought forward to expose how the Johnson government's corruption and mishandling of the crisis has cost UK lives and brought ruin to the economy.

Ahead of the national demonstration held in London on Saturday 26 June by the People's Assembly, Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general secretary, warned that while the Tories are making 'millionaires out of their mates with our money', it is cuts and yet more austerity for the rest of the country.

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.