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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 7 September 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.

1 September 2020

Failure to support industry is a `green light' to sack workers, say Aviation workers

Aviation workers from low-cost airline easyJet and Dnata Catering UK (formerly known as Alpha LSG) will be bringing their call for the government to provide long-promised support to the sector to Parliament on Wednesday 2 September, after their employers made brutal cuts on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Add line about the planned protest, the wider issue of the gov’s refusal to support the sector and risk to 60,000 jobs.

Unite regional officer Lindsey Olliver – who represents easyJet workers – said: “The government’s failure to provide specific support to the aviation industry with safeguards to protect staff has given easyJet the green light to slash staff numbers.

“The UK government needs to take decisive action to support workers remain in employment rather than force them into unemployment and having to support them through paying benefits.”

2 September 2020

Unite says Heathrow airport plans to fire and rehire workers further undermines a vulnerable industry

Unite reacted with deep concern after reports that Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) would begin its formal ‘firing and rehiring’ process, which will see workers reemployed with vastly inferior pay and conditions.

This follows negotiations between HAL and Unite last month on the company’s proposals to cut pay by 24 per cent for some workers, as well as slashing allowances, imposing inferior conditions, and closing the company pension scheme.

Unite Regional Co-ordinating Officer, Wayne King, said: “At a time when Unite is working hard to persuade the government to follow the lead of other European nations and provide specific financial support to the aviation sector to ensure that the industry and workers can survive the pandemic and thrive in the future, these actions are distinctly unhelpful.

“Unite urges HAL to withdraw this ill-judged attack on its loyal workforce and to return to the negotiating table as had been previously agreed.”

4 September 2020

Call for aviation support package reinforced by Virgin Atlantic job losses

Unite released a statement reacting to Virgin Atlantic’s announcement of a further 1,150 job cuts, stating that it was more concrete evidence of the government’s comprehensive failure to support the UK’s key aviation sector during the pandemic.

Unite Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland said: “This announcement by Virgin Atlantic is another serious blow to the UK’s aviation industry and is a searing indictment of the cavalier way that the government has treated the aviation sector, which is key to the health of the British economy.”

7 September 2020

SOS for Jobs heads to Parliament as UK workers urge PM ‘don't abandon us'

On Wednesday 9 September, and with under eight weeks until the end of the furlough scheme, workers from across the UK will launch the SOS for Jobs campaign to persuade the prime minister to think again on a focused sector level extension of the job retention scheme (JRS).

Ahead of the Opposition debate in the Commons, where MPs will focus on the UK’s jobs protection plans, workers - including those from Rolls Royce, Airbus and Ford - will send an ad van from College Green, Westminster to tour SW1 carrying a message for the prime minster. They are also inviting MPs from all parties to join them to sign a pledge in support of UK workers.

Speaking ahead of the event, Steve Turner, Unite Assistant General Secretary for Manufacturing, said: "This SOS is a heartfelt plea from people who've given their working lives to build Britain and position the UK globally as a great manufacturing nation. They are now urging the prime minister ‘do not abandon us'.

"They are not asking for bailouts, just a helping hand to share work on reduced hours to retain both jobs and skills in today’s unprecedented circumstances. All they want is the support of their government while we work night and day to get viable businesses through this crisis and bring new orders to the books."

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.

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.