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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 3 August 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.

28 July 2020

Unite releases statement on report that earlier lockdown would have saved London bus driver lives

Commenting on the Transport for London (TfL) commissioned report, which explained that an earlier lockdown would have saved lives among bus drivers in London, Unite Regional Officer, John Murphy, said:

“This report makes it quite clear that in its approach to lockdown the government tried to lock the stable door after the horse had bolted. London bus drivers and their families paid a terrible price for the government’s mistakes during the pandemic and these should be fully scrutinised in a public inquiry.”

Job losses are ‘devastating blow’ for bus maker Alexander Dennis

Unite is working with bus maker Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) to minimize redundancies after the announcement of 650 job losses at the firm, including at sites in Guildford, Scarborough and Falkirk.

29 July 2020

Unite renews calls for pandemic public inquiry

Following the MPs’ report into untested patients discharged into care homes, Unite has doubled down on calls for a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Unite Assistant General Secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “The committee’s findings are a welcome first step, but MPs need to dig deeper into the long-standing crisis in social care.

“This inquiry should happen, sooner rather than later, as we suspect that Boris Johnson wants to play for time before such an inquiry is set-up as it will expose the lamentable failings of his government during this national emergency which has seen more than 45,000 lives lost to COVID-19.”

30 July 2020

Pay is ‘elephant in the room’ for NHS staff as new NHS England People Plan launched

Unite has said that a deserved boost in pay for NHS staff is ‘the elephant in the room’ in the latest plan for the health service in England.

Unite National Officer for Health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “There have been a plethora of plans for the future of the NHS over the years and this latest manifestation neatly avoids ‘the elephant in the room’ – that of NHS pay.

“NHS staff have worked ceaselessly throughout the pandemic at great risk to themselves and a generous pay rise would recognise that dedication as well as staunch the ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis that is currently afflicting the NHS – for example, there are about 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone.

“It is all very well for the plan to trumpet bureaucracy busting measures, but it was the flawed 2012 Act of the then health secretary Andrew Lansley that created the extra bureaucracy by fragmenting the NHS in the first place.”

Labour campaign welcome drive to force urgently needed government action to save jobs

Responding to the launch of the Labour party's campaign to defend jobs and protect communities from mass unemployment in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, said:

"Redundancy notices have been raining down like confetti in recent weeks.  Working people and communities are terrified of what the coming months will bring.  

"Unions like Unite have been working tirelessly throughout this crisis to defend jobs and pay, and keep workers safe.  But if we are to avert the jobs loss tsunami that we fear will sweep through our communities this summer, we need the government to act and to do so urgently.  

“At the moment, however, after the initial positive support from the chancellor Rishi Sunak, we are now talking to a governmental brick wall.

"If more jobs go, as we fear they will, in the coming weeks in sectors that simply need some short-term governmental assistance in order to come out of the other side of this crisis, it will be because of a criminal lack of political action. 

"It is very welcome then that Labour has joined the charge to force this government to do more, and, with urgency, to keep people at work and earning.

31 July 2020

A statement from Len McCluskey on BA's ‘short-termism’

Responding to British Airways' quarterly results, Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, urged the airline to step back from its opportunistic ‘fire and rehire’ plans, which could send thousands of dedicated employees to the dole queue.

He said: "Again, we urge BA and Willie Walsh to step back from this needless and destructive course of action. This airline has built its phenomenal wealth and power on the hard work and dedication of its staff and the loyalty of its customers.

“Willie Walsh and Alex Cruz are trashing both along with a once great airline, causing havoc right across the aviation sector. This is irresponsible and unnecessary and Unite will do all we can to prevent it."

Unite warns of 3,000 job losses from Heathrow airline catering companies

About 3,000 jobs are likely to be axed as Heathrow catering companies use COVID-19 as ‘a smokescreen’ to undermine employment conditions for those that remain.

Unite is highlighting the plight of, what it describes as, ‘the invisible army of aviation caterers’, who provide meals for some of the world’s biggest airlines, including British Airways, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic.

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.

For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) related benefits, Unite has set up a dedicated benefits advice line which members can access by calling 0333 202 6563.

H3: 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.