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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 4 May 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 April 2020:

Government urged to resolve sick pay problems with furlough scheme

Unite urged the government to resolve a major discrepancy within the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which may prevent thousands of workers from being furloughed.

Unite Assistant General Secretary for Legal Services, Howard Beckett, said: “It is vital that the confusion over who is entitled to enter the Job Retention Scheme is quickly resolved.

“Thousands of our most vulnerable members who have coronavirus type symptoms or are shielding are confused.

“The government has the ability to clarify this matter and ensure that all affected workers are fairly furloughed.

“Unite is hopeful that this is an error which can be easily remedied but Unite will take steps to protect our most vulnerable members if action from the government is not matching its words."

29 April 2020:

BA’s mass sackings called "unlawful and immoral" by McCluskey

A move from British Airways to make 12,000 UK workers redundant without any consultation was denounced by Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, as “unlawful and immoral”, suggesting that it should be withdrawn.

In a statement, McCluskey said: “BA built its reputation on being the `world's favourite airline' but by pursuing this needlessly drastic course it risks becoming better known as the destroyer of UK jobs and aviation.

"We say to BA that there is a better way forward for both it and the industry. We urge it to think again.”

30 April 2020:

£60,000 life assurance coronavirus payment must be extended to UK’s bus workers, says Unite

Unite urged Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, to extend the £60,000 life assurance payment for the families of UK’s bus workers after at least 34 transport workers died because of Covid-19.

Unite also questioned whether the £60,000 payment would be sufficient to replace lost earnings over a working lifetime, given that a deceased key worker may have had another 25 years employment ahead of them.

Unite statement regarding disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME NHS staff

Unite released a statement supporting the introduction of a risk assessment strategy for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the NHS in relation to coronavirus.

Unite National Officer for Health, Jackie Williams, said: “We know that BAME staff have suffered a disproportionate number of cases of death and illness due to Covid-19 and welcome plans by NHS management that BAME personnel should be ‘risk-assessed’ and reassigned to duties that leave them at lesser risk of contracting coronavirus.

“However, we are very concerned that BAME staff may not feel confident in raising their concerns about coronavirus with their managers, compared with other groups.”

1 May 2020:

Unite welcomes Welsh government payment for carers

Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced that all care workers in Wales would receive a £500 payment in recognition of the work they have undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking about the new initiative, Unite Regional Secretary for Wales, Peter Hughes, said: “This is a tremendous initiative and underlines the work that the Welsh Labour government has done to both protect and acknowledge the incredible work of frontline workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This payment goes a small way towards showing the appreciation in Wales for care workers, many of whom are on the minimum wage, who have continued to care for their clients and keep them safe in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.”

Ryanair announces 3,000 staff redundancies

Unite issued a statement after Irish airline Ryanair announced that it would be making 3,000 redundancies, as well as other staff pay cuts.

Oliver Richardson, Unite National Officer for Aviation, said: “This is another premature announcement, especially while the government’s Job Retention Scheme remains fully up and running.

“Ryanair has significant cash reserves and is in a better place than many airlines to cope with the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created.”

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.