NSSN supporters will be taking part as usual in the weekly #ClapForOurCarers at 8pm this Thursday to salute all those emergency and key workers caring and providing essential services for us at this time during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
But it’s clear from the many reports, including in our weekly bulletins, that workers’ anger and frustration is increasing on a whole range of issues that affect our health and safety as well as jobs and income.
This has been brought home by the tragic deaths of frontline workers, including in the NHS and care sector and public transport. As we go to press, 20 London transport workers have passed away. The NSSN sends solidarity and condolences to all bereaved families.
We support the calls to protect workers with PPE, regular testing and to ensure employers adhere to social distancing rules. We totally oppose putting non-essential workers in danger, such as in construction and now at Passport Offices. Any worker who is required not to attend work or is unable to do so because of childcare or transport closures should receive full pay and not be forced to take annual leave.
Therefore, when you clap on Thursday, join in with demands that highlight these issues, such as these and others that you believe are important:-
#PPEForNHS #PPEForAll #TestTestTest #ShutTheSites #PAYEveryWorker #ClapForOurCarers #ClapForWorkers #CloseTheFrontDoor
The NSSN is continuing to report on how workers are organising during the coronavirus pandemic. The NSSN is opening up our weekly email bulletin, website and social media platforms of Facebook and twitter to provide a public forum for workers during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis. We want to be a place where we can all share queries and experiences that workers are facing in their workplaces. These include reports of action taken by workers to defend themselves from their employers.
You can read about many of these actions in our weekly bulletin and out social media groups, especially our Facebook group: NSSN – defend workers’ rights under Coronavirus.
You can also send the NSSN your reports and queries via our website, twitter – @NSSN_AntiCuts and email – [email protected]
We welcome the information being sent to union members concerning the spread of coronavirus, including the TUC, Unison, Prospect, Unite, RMT, PCS, ASLEF, TSSA, CWU, EIS, UCU, Mandate, NUJ, NIPSA, FBU, POA, NEU, NASUWT, BFAWU, RCN and the GMB.
But it is absolutely vital that unions retain their ability to organise and act independently in defence of their members and workers generally. This includes the right of unions to take industrial action. We are already aware of workers being forced to take unofficial action on health and safety grounds. We also believe that unions should have oversight of any government bans on protests and picketing. This is the same Tory government that tabled more new anti-union laws in December’s Queens Speech last December and cannot be trusted.
We believe that it is essential that workers are protected during this worrying period and are not impacted, whether in terms of their safety as well as their pay and employment rights. The Tory government have announced measures that if implemented would include some workers receive 80% of their wages. However, we believe that no worker should pay the price for any spread of the virus. Any worker who is required not to attend work or is unable to do so because of childcare or transport closures should receive full pay and not be forced to take annual leave. But unions have to remain vigilant that any government payments actually happen and also covers all workers, including those in precarious employment such as zero-hour contracts and in the gig economy.
We have drafted this model motion which we’ve made into a bulletin that can be downloaded and printed off to be distributed. Feel free to use in your union and trades council, in totality or partially to highlight the issues that need to be addressed.
Keep an eye out for other Facebook and social media groups and pages that are being created. The Coronavirus Support Group for Workers has been set up on Facebook and is a useful forum.
Watch the video by Reel News with the Blacklist Support Group and the Construction Rank & File workers: #ShutTheSites Call for Non-Essential Construction to be shut down
Sign Waltham Forest Trades Union Council petition to Barts NHS Trust: for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all NHS staff particularly at Whipps Cross hospital. When you sign, you will be connected to the Waltham Forest Trades Union Council website, where they invite you to join their Zoom mass meeting with front-line trade unionists fighting on the ground to get adequate protection, many in low paid jobs
Union Coronavirus resources
Most TUC-affiliated unions have dedicated sections or pages of their websites to coronavirus/Covid-19 advice. Here are those where such information is available without entering special member portals. We will keep updating them
BECTU Sector of Prospect
College of Podiatry
National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD)
Fight victimisation of union reps
Since the new year, a whole number of union reps and members have been sacked, suspended or disciplined. This is becoming a pattern. So much for ‘all being in this together’ during the coronavirus pandemic”. This comes on the back of the Tories’ planned new anti-union laws.
The NSSN will continue to highlight every such case and build support and solidarity so that these workers and others get their jobs back. Please send a message of support to those being attacked and invite them to your union branch and trades council. Keep letting us know about any other acts of union victimisation and we’ll publicise.
Clara Paillard PCS victory – We are delighted to announce that the threat of dismissal has been lifted and Clara, PCS president in the Culture sector, is ‘back at work’ (although from home during the current pandemic).
Reinstate Percy Yunganina UVW union – Percy is a cleaner at King’s college with 5 years on the job, and a UVW executive committee member, who’s just been sacked after a disciplinary hearing he refused to attend due to observing the government’s social distancing guidelines but which King’s College proceeded with anyway in his absence without even letting him know or inviting him to attend via phone. The hearing would have had 8 people cramped together in a small room in complete disregard of the government’s instructions about social distancing. Percy has explained the reaons for not attending and asked for the decision to be overturned and the hearing to be reconvened via phone or in person after Lockdown. However, King’s have scandalously refused this request and have insisted on upholding his dismissal which now leaves Percy out of work and out of pocket in the middle of a pandemic! He will formally appeal but it could take months to hear and deliver an outcome. We will also take King’s to tribunal but that could take over a year. This is utterly shameless conduct by King’s HR team, led by Nigel Smith, the Head of People Services. They need to be held to account. Everyone deserves the right to a fair hearing and should not have that right denied them for respecting the government’s public health guidelines about social distancing. Please repost this and write to Nigel Smith at the following address telling him to reinstate Percy – [email protected]
Sign the petition: Reinstate Ezra Christian RMT – We, the undersigned, are appalled at the treatment and summary dismissal of our Bakerloo Line colleague Ezra Christian. Ezra has been treated very harshly and does not deserve to be sacked. We call on London Underground to do the right thing in this case and Reinstate Ezra back into London Underground Employment immediately
Reinstate Clive Walder Unite: the campaign continues – Unfortunately, we have to inform you that the appeal by Unite against Clive’s dismissal by National Express in Birmingham was unsuccessful. In the hearing on 5 March, the company downgraded his offence from gross misconduct to misconduct and altered the penalty from summary dismissal to dismissal with four weeks’ notice. We believe dismissal is totally disproportionate and Clive should be reinstated. Clive and his union Unite the union will shortly decide the next steps in his campaign against his sacking. Clive would like to thank all those who have expressed solidarity with him, including supporters of the National Shop Stewards Network who took part in the protest leafleting of his workplace before the appeal hearing. It was successful enough for National Express to report it to the Unite full time official. Please continue to send protest emails to [email protected]. The NSSN has produced a flyer which can be downloaded and printed off to give to National Express employees and customers in support of Clive. We are appealing to our supporters to take photos of any solidarity protests and post on social media
Support Danyal Aziz Unite – Daniel was a Unite rep at London City Airport, who was recently sacked. Labour MP Sam Tarry has tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion in support of Danyal. Email your local MP to get them to sign the EDM
Defend Paul Williams PCS – Stop the victimisation of senior PCS rep Paul Williams – Paul Williams has a long and proud history of defending his colleagues at the Department for Transport, and predecessor departments, for nearly 40 years but as a result of his union activities is facing compulsory redundancy even though there are vacancies at his grade read more
Support Tony Smith Unison – Tony Smith one of the leaders of the successful FCC dispute which won sick pay for nearly 2,500 workers is being victimised. charged with gross misconduct over health and safety charges, his hearing is on Thursday. Please send messages of support to Hull Trades Council c/o [email protected]
Sign the petition: Reinstate UNISON rep Peter Moorhead and stop victimising trade unionists at Alternative Futures Group (AFG)
Support the ASDA workers and reinstate Michael Hunnum – 12,000 workers faced being sacked before Christmas by scrooge bosses ASDA, who are now owned by US superstore giant Walmart. This threat hanging over them was unless they agree to the new ‘Contract 6’ which will see them lose all their paid breaks and forced to work bank holidays. The same employer is sacking North East GMB member Michael Hunnam. Michael’s fight is part of the same struggle to resist the offensive of the ASDA bosses. Michael’s supporters believe that his determined opposition to Contract 6 is what has put him in the ASDA firing line. Support the ASDA workers and reinstate Michael!
Defend Moe Unite – support Moe Muhsin Manir, a hardworking Unite rep on London buses, working for Abellio. We are delighted to report that Moe is back at work. We will keep everyone up to date on any developments. Moe would like to thank everyone who sent support and solidarity.
Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE. Feel free to use this affiliation letter
Date for your diary: 2020 NSSN Conference Saturday July 4th 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL
This leaflet advertising the 2020 NSSN Conference can be downloaded and printed off
And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]
Follow us on twitter via @NSSN_AntiCuts and Facebook
Watch NSSN TUC Rally video
Bus union RMT exposes on-going Covid-19 protection scandal (11 Apr) – Bus union RMT have been alerted to the most inept steps they have ever seen from an employer to protect their workers from Covid 19. After making strenuous representation to First South West Buses to fit suitable Perspex screens to their fleet of buses in order to provide a physical barrier between the driver and their passengers. The company’s first action was simply to ignore the unions representations. What they then did just beggars belief. In a video shared with the RMT, what can best be described as a shower curtain has been screwed to the ceiling of the drivers cab and hangs well short of the bus wind-screen. The union has had reports from our driver members that the curtain is so flimsy members of the public have been pulling it to one side in order to speak to the driver. This brings passengers into even closer contact with the driver and puts them at still greater risk read more
RMT keeps up pressure for full support and protection for London Transport staff as COVID-19 crisis continues (9 Apr) – Transport union RMT said today that is continuing to apply pressure in discussions with TFL for full support and protection for London Transport staff as the Covid-19 emergency continues. RMT has identified a number of serious concerns around which discussion with TFL are still on going read more
Sign petition: to The Mayor of London and the London Assembly – End the privatisation of cleaning at Transport for London
RAIL UNION RMT has suspended strike action on South Western Railway in good faith to allow further talks to take place read more
Donate to the RMT strike fund on South Western Railway – The NSSN is appealing for financial support and solidarity for the RMT and their members on SWR, who have just voted to renew their mandate to take mote strike action. Send messages of support and requests for speakers for your union branch and/or trades council to RMT NEC member and SWR guard Geoff Kite – [email protected]
To make a donation to the hardship funds set up for RMT members striking against Driver Only Operation:-
National Dispute Fund:
Transfers can be made directly into the account using the details below:
Account name: RMT Head Office National Dispute Fund
Account no: 20113524
Sort Code: 60-83-01
Alternatively, you can send cheques to the Finance Department at Head Office – Unity House 39 Chalton Street London NW11JD
RMT Wessex DOO Dispute Fund:
Transfers can be made directly into the account using the details below:
Account name: RMT Wessex DOO Dispute Fund
Account no: 20399461
Sort Code: 60-83-01
PCS pressure pauses HMPO plan to send hundreds more into work unnecessarily (14 Apr) – PCS pressure has led to a temporary halt on HM Passport Office staff being forced back into their offices to do routine work. A leaked transcript of a video conference meeting involving top HMPO bosses last week suggested up to 2,000 members of staff could return to work on “routine” passport applications despite a ban on international travel and a rising Covid-19 death toll in the UK. We have pressed hard for the Home Office and HMPO to ensure staff are kept safe at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Our pressure has begun to have an effect as HMPO has called a temporary halt to bringing more staff back into offices this week read more
Support HMRC cleaners who have been on strike for Living Wage – Contracted out cleaners at HMRC have recently been on strike in a dispute over the Living Wage. ISS staff who are employed to clean tax offices at Bootle and Liverpool will take 14 days action with colleagues in Birmingham taking 2 days. Workers are angry at ISS over poor pay and conditions and the refusal of ministers at HMRC to take the cleaning contract back in-house. The real Living Wage is £10.75 in London and £9.30 for the rest of the UK is based on the cost of living and is voluntarily paid by nearly 6,000 UK employers who believe a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. The strike received a 97% yes vote on a 90% turnout read more
Show your support
Support Interserve strikers – Interserve workers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, were on strike for the whole of February. You can support the workers in the following ways:
- Sign and publicise the E-action
- Donate to the PCS fighting fund
- Send messages of support to [email protected]
- Visit the picket line at Whitehall/King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH. Read more
Unite wins wage security for redundant Carluccio’s workers (13 Apr) – In the first legal test of the government’s job retention scheme (JRS), Unite, the union for hospitality workers, has secured clarification that the scheme can be used by companies in administration during the Covid-19 crisis. Unite is now calling on Carluccio’s workers who were made jobless in March when the restaurant chain went into administration to respond to the administrator’s offer or get in touch with their union so that they can access the scheme and establish some wage security. The union took action because it was concerned that those workers who have not yet responded to an offer by the administrators faced the prospect of being made redundant over the Easter bank holiday weekend read more
Unite wins day one full company sick pay for London’s bus workers (11 Apr) – Unite – the trade union for the capital’s 20,000 bus workers – has secured company sick pay from day one for London’s bus staff it announced today (Saturday 11 April). The win for the workers follows intense pressure from the union on bus operators, Transport for London (TfL), the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the national government for better protection from Covid-19 for bus workers. In recent days, it has been confirmed that 14 London transport workers have lost their lives to the virus, nine of them bus workers. The union is concerned that London’s bus workers are being hit disproportionately by the disease read more
Fears for Kent and Sussex housing workers over lack of social distancing (10 Apr) – Unite, the construction union, is warning today (Friday 10 April) that “a business as usual” approach is placing the health of workers employed on housing maintenance contract in Kent and Sussex in danger during the coronavirus pandemic because of a lack of social distancing. Unite represents workers employed by Mears on Crawley council’s housing maintenance contract and also workers at East Kent Housing which covers Canterbury, Dover, Thanet and Folkestone councils. The workers are concerned that as they have been designated as key workers that they are still expected to undertake routine housing maintenance work and work on void (empty) properties read more
80 jobs saved at Altrad Services following Unite intervention (9 Apr) – Altrad Services – which owns Motherwell Bridge, Cape Industrial Services and Hertel Industrial Services – based at Grangemouth has agreed to reinstate all recently redundant workers, and to furlough them under the terms of the UK government’s coronavirus job retention scheme initially for a six-week review period. The company’s operations include providing industrial services to the oil and gas, energy, and petrochemical sectors read more
Unite stops Cardiff based company sacking workers during Covid 19 crisis (9 Apr) – A Unite campaign has stopped a Cardiff based food wholesaler from attempting to cruelly sack over 100 low paid workers. Global Foods in Cardiff sacked all its 117 workers days after the government’s job retention scheme was announced, leaving workers jobless in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. But a handful of workers who belonged to Unite contacted their union and Unite initiated a hard-hitting campaign which ensured the workers were furloughed instead of being sacked read more
Unite highlights ‘cruel’ hospitality bosses behaving badly in coronavirus crisis (9 Apr) – Unite has today (Thursday 9 April) accused the hospitality industry of blatant opportunism amid mounting evidence that some unscrupulous bosses are using the crisis as a cover to slip in worse terms and conditions and short change staff. Under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) employers can claim 80 per cent of the normal pay of ‘furloughed’ employees up to £2,500 a month, but instead of inserting a temporary lay-off clause into workers’ contracts by agreement for the duration of the furlough, Hard Rock café and hotel owner, Great London Hospitality (glh) Hotels Ltd and others are seeking to make this clause permanent and unpaid. Lay-off clauses are rare in the hospitality industry read more
No time for trials to ensure bus driver safety during coronavirus pandemic, immediate action imperative (8 Apr) – Unite, the union for the UK’s bus workers, has warned that there is “no time for trials” of the new safety measures introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and said that bus operators, regulators and the government must take immediate action to ensure bus worker safety. Unite made its call following the announcement today (Wednesday 8 April) by Transport for London (TfL) that it was trialling closing the front door on buses on a limited number of routes. Unite believes that the front doors on London buses should be locked immediately and alternative arrangements should be made for payment during this time read more
Mitie blasted for breaking Living Wage promise to frontline Heathrow cleaners (8 Apr) – Outsourcing giant Mitie has been blasted by Unite after it told low paid cleaners helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus at Heathrow Airport that they will not receive the pay increase to the London Living Wage promised for April. Mitie has told the key workers, who clean shared spaces such as seating areas and toilets at Heathrow Terminal 5 for the minimum wage of £8.72 an hour, that their hourly rate will now not rise this month to the London Living Wage of £10.75. The company has given no indication of when the delay will be reversed and the London Living Wage introduced read more
MTVHA – Stop the Sackings! Sign petition: To: Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive Officer, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association – Please cease all compulsory redundancies during the recruitment freeze caused by Coronavirus restrictions which would make it impossible for anyone to find alternative employment read more from Unite Housing Workers branch
Support Westex Carpets staff strike – Westex Carpet strike reaches two month mark: Members of Unite at the Westex Carpets factory in Cleckheaton are about to reach the two month mark in their ongoing dispute over pay. The strike began on November 20th after workers rejected a minimal pay rise which was then withdrawn by the company, which has since refused further dialogue read more Westex Carpets ‘won’t win battle of wills’ as strikes head into ninth week after talks collapse (22 Jan)
To make a donation to the hardship fund:-
Account name – TGWU
Account number – 20175407
Sort code – 60/83/01
Reference – WESTEX STRIKE FUND
NHS workers’ COVID-19 deaths ‘beyond heartbreaking’ (11 Apr) – Union criticises Government over ‘broken promises’ over protective equipment for frontline workers. GMB, the union for key workers, has said Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s devastating disclosure that at least 19 NHS workers have died of COVID-19. The union said Ministers also needed to release death figures for other frontline workers, including care home workers read more
Heathrow ‘betrays’ workers over promised pay rise (9 Apr) – Heathrow has ‘betrayed’ workers by backtracking on a promised pay rise which was due to take effect this month. Following GMB’s long-running campaign, Heathrow announced all contracted staff working at the airport would be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by April 2020. But instead of honouring the promised Heathrow Ltd – which claims to be ‘a proud London Living Wage employer’ – has used the Coronavirus crisis to keep workers on poverty wages. To rub salt in the wound, low-paid workers are not even being given access to free parking at the airport read more
Thousands of public service workers contact UNISON with ‘harrowing’ PPE stories (9 Apr) – Ministers need to get to grips with supply problems. Thousands of people working in the NHS, social care and local services have contacted a UNISON hotline in the last week expressing anxiety at the lack of gloves, masks, eye protectors and gowns where they work. Staff from across the UK’s public services say they’re scared that without the right protective equipment, they risk catching the virus and passing it on to their families, or the elderly and vulnerable people they work with and care for read more
UNISON secures PPE win for Scotland’s care workers (9 Apr) – Joint unions warned that previous advice from Scotland’s chief nursing officer increased risks for home and social carers. Scotland’s care workers should get face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, says new advice from the Scottish government after UNISON and other unions stepped in. UNISON Scotland, along with other unions, got agreement from the Scottish government that the UK-wide guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) applies for the country’s care workers read more
Guidance for members: Refusal to treat due to lack of adequate PPE during the pandemic – The RCN is acutely aware that members have reported a lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in all health and social care settings during the crisis. There will be difficult decisions to be made by nursing staff whether to continue to provide care if it is not supplied. The RCN has pressed the government to provide appropriate UK guidance about PPE and continues to push the government and employers to provide the right PPE to all health care staff, whatever the setting read more
Prospect secures furlough deal for National Trust staff on flexible hours contracts (9 Apr) – Prospect has negotiated protection for flexible hour contract staff in the National Trust. These staff will be paid 100% furlough pay – on the basis of salary payments for the same month last year, or an average from the last twelve months, whichever is greater. Flexible hour staff tend to be the lowest paid within the Trust – on the most precarious contracts, overwhelmingly female and under the age of 25. The move follows earlier agreement between Prospect and the National Trust to furlough permanent staff on the basis of 100% of salary during the period of furlough. Prospect was then approached to discuss separate proposals for staff on flexible hour contracts. The union was committed to achieving the best deal possible for members and wanted to avoid any scenario which would create a division within the workforce or a two-tier agreement under which some staff would benefit from more than others read more
NUJ condemns violent threat to Belfast journalist (8 Apr) – The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland has vehemently condemned a threat by dissident republicans to carry out a violent attack on a Belfast-based journalist working for the Irish News. The journalist received confirmation of the threat from the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The union has called for the threat to be lifted immediately read more
Unions react to the rearrest of those acquitted of Daniel Pearl murder (7 Apr) – Four men accused of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002 were rearrested on 4 April, a day after a court controversially overturned their convictions. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the US-based National Writers Union (NWU) jointly demand justice for Daniel Pearl, a strong appeal against the four acquittals and urgent adoption of a UN convention to protect and defend journalists globally read more
Agreement reached between Equity and SOLT to support the West End (14 Apr) – SOLT and Equity are pleased to announce that they have come to an agreement to support artists and stage management during the current suspension of West End shows due to the COVID-19 crisis. The new agreement provides the best possible framework for the long-term job security of performers and recovery of the West End during these unprecedented circumstances, and is strongly supported by all involved as the best way forward for the industry. It covers every eventuality and perspective, from long-running musicals to plays with limited runs, productions yet to open and shows still in rehearsal when the shutdown began read more
Equity reaches deal to support artists working in continuing dramas (8 Apr) – Equity has secured financial support for artists working in continuing dramas following the complete shutdown of production. This includes shows such as Holby, Casualty, Eastenders, Doctors, River City, Pobol y Cwm, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. The unions has been in intense and complex negotiations across the screen, audio and new media sector to secure the best deal for members during this crisis read more
TSSA – Non Essential Public Transport Workers Must be Stood Down (7 Apr) – TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has called for all non-essential public transport workers to be stood down after the Government revealed a huge drop in numbers using the railways. Figures from the latest Downing St briefing (6th April) show a widespread change in the use of public transport since the Coronavirus lockdown, with national rail usage dropping to below 20 per cent across Britain read more
Free School Meals available over the Easter Holidays – We are pleased to see that Government has listened to the NEU and others who have asked for FSM to be available throughout the holidays read more
Unacceptable actions by DESC in COVID-19 crisis (9 Apr) – The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union is deeply concerned around some aspects of the Department for Education, Sport and Culture’s (DESC) response to the current COVID-19 crisis. The Union has written to Tynwald members over the Department’s unacceptable action over supply teachers’ pay, the lack of PPE for teachers in special/SEN units and the failure to halt redundancy plans read more
NASUWT comments on Northern Ireland pay and workload agreement for teachers (8 Apr) – Commenting on the proposed pay and workload agreement giving effect to a pay award for teachers in Northern Ireland of 2.25% from September 2017 and an additional 2% from September 2018, Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary (Acting) of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said: “This long overdue offer follows two years of negotiation. It is regrettable that the lack of action caused primarily by having no government until January 2020 held this pay and workload offer back 10 months after it was agreed in principle. The NASUWT will now be consulting with our members on this offer” read more
UCU says Universities UK’s proposals to support universities do not go far enough (9 Apr) – The union described the proposals from Universities UK as “piecemeal” and said they failed to recognise the scale of the problem. UCU said in exchange for the type of substantial government support needed to protect higher education, universities had to step back from their usual dog-eat-dog approach and work collectively and collegiately in the wider interest read more
“Callous” London college slammed for cutting staff hours and pay to zero in middle of coronavirus crisis (8 Apr) – Stanmore College didn’t properly investigate government job protection scheme, leaving staff with no pay and little chance of finding alternative employment. “Callous” Stanmore College is under fire for threatening to slash staff hours and pay to zero during the coronavirus crisis. Unions also labelled the college “incompetent” after discovering it had not even tried to find out if staff were protected under the government’s furlough scheme. By cutting hours to zero the college would effectively stop paying people at a time when they have no realistic prospect of finding alternative employment. The college has refused to say how many staff it wrote to on 31 March* telling them they were at risk of having their hours and pay slashed to zero from Good Friday (10 April) read more
3,000 fire and rescue personnel in coronavirus isolation as services pay the price for testing fiasco (13 Apr) – Fire and rescue personnel urgently need coronavirus testing, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned, as services lose up to 12% of their firefighters and control staff to self-isolation. Nearly 3,000 fire and rescue staff are in self-isolation and unable to work, representing 5.1% of the UK’s overall fire and rescue workforce. Just under 2,600 of them are operational firefighters and control staff, making up 5.3% of the total. Emergency fire control rooms, which have less staff, have been worst hit in some areas, with some control rooms losing 15.9% of their staff. The FBU has said that, without urgent testing of frontline personnel, there will inevitably be an impact on brigades’ ability to provide fire cover and respond to other emergencies, including their work supporting the coronavirus response. Fire and rescue services in the UK are operating with 11,500 fewer firefighters than in 2010 read more
Fast Food Workers at Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wetherspoons and others are joining together to demand #100Percent pay during the Coronavirus lockdown. We can’t afford a 20% cut, we need #100Percent BFAWU union
Home Office urged by Usdaw to introduce measures to prevent abuse of shopworkers (8 Apr) – Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has written to the Home Secretary requesting progress on the Government’s own ‘call for evidence’ on violence and abuse toward shop staff. The call for evidence was published over a year ago and attracted thousands of responses from shopworkers and retailers calling on the Government to do more to protect retail staff. Despite repeated assurances to former MP David Hanson, Alex Norris MP and Mike Amesbury MP the Government is yet to respond read more
Workers must be prioritised in Debenhams liquidation, say Mandate Trade Union (9 Apr) – Debenhams Ireland management have today (Thursday, 9th April) informed Mandate Trade Union that the Irish arm of the business is to enter into liquidation with the loss of almost 2,000 jobs in 11 stores across the country. The company suspended trading due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has confirmed to staff in a letter today “that these stores are not expected to reopen.” Read more
Irish bus drivers going on strike in protest over lack of PPE (Apr 14) – IRISH BUS drivers are going on strike today to protest the lack of protective equipment available to them amid the coronavirus crisis. Bus Eireann staff reportedly made the decision after one of their drivers contracted the disease. The strike action is expected to deal a significant blow to nurses, care staff and other essential workers who rely on their services to get to and from work. However, fears have been heightened regarding public transport recently after it emerged that 20 bus drivers in the UK had died as a result of Covid-19 read more from Irish Post
IWGB Calls for #BoycottASOS as up to 70 Key Delivery Workers Face Redundancy (9 Apr) – The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is calling on ASOS to guarantee these jobs will be saved by 30 April. The IWGB wants ASOS to ensure that the drivers who currently deliver its parcels across Central London using electric vehicles, will continue their employment with ASOS’s new delivery partners, DPD and Hermes, when the contract changes hands on 1 May. Despite having key worker status during the Covid-19 pandemic, these workers now stand to lose their livelihoods and say they don’t know how they will survive and support their families. They are entitled to but have not been offered furlough under the government’s job retention scheme read more
TUC courses at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CoNEL) at the Tottenham Campus
Please see here, our course flyers for TUC courses starting in April and September 2020. Please note that there are two new Certificate courses that we have developed entitled Health & Safety Essentials Certificate and Equality Certificate. The Trade Union Education Department of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CoNEL) at the Tottenham Campus is delivering these courses. If you have any issues applying online, please give us a call on 020 8442 3075 with your email address and we can send you an application form. It would be appreciated if you could also speak to your branch secretary or other branch officers and reps to promote these courses. Many thanks colleague.
Blacklisting and union victimisation
Blacklist Support Group coronavirus statement
Blacklist Support Group supports 2 linked demands for the construction sector:
- #ShutTheSites – Close all non-essential building sites to keep workers and their families safe
- #PAYEveryworker – Ensure every worker gets paid to ensure their families are not put into destitution
Blame greedy bosses, clients and the government NOT the workers
The vast majority of construction workers are decent hardworking people. None of them want to put their own or their family members’ lives at risk by working in a situation where coronavirus infection is likely. Yet despite the apparent lockdown, photographs of packed building sites have been all over the media for days. When construction workers go to work, they share minibuses, travel on packed tubes, eat in crowded canteens, go up in full hoists, use palm print entry systems and live in barrack style accommodation on site. Construction is a dirty dangerous place at the best of times with notoriously poor welfare facilities, where the very process requires people to work in close proximity. Coronavirus will spread like wildfire in these circumstances.
Blame for this giant threat to public health lies with the greedy major contractors and clients continuing to enforce penalty clauses for delays; forcing building workers to come into work. Blame also lies with the government for not ordering all non-essential construction work to close. Ministers make speeches from lecterns emblazoned with the slogan ‘Stay Home Save Lives’ but building workers are still expected to go to work. There appears to have been orchestrated lobbying by the large contractors who are also major financial donors to the Tory Party. Its all about the money.
A culture of fear
There are also widespread reports of construction workers being sacked or told not to return to site if they complain or take the decision to leave unsafe sites. Construction News even reported workers being worried about blacklisting and being told to “F*ck Off, if you don’t like it”. One electrician in central London was sacked for gross-misconduct for posting a tweet about lack of social distancing.
As blacklisted building workers, we know from personal experience that the spectre of blacklisting is still very real in the construction industry. Big firms claim it’s a thing of the past but everyone knows it’s still going on. If safety reps get sacked, it’s no surprise that other workers keep their heads down. It’s a climate of fear that’s putting public health at risk.
Coronavirus Risk Assessment for the construction industry would highlight:
- Repeated prosecutions for breaches of H&S laws
- Blacklisting of safety reps by major contractors
- Workers being sacked where they complain abut safety
- Highest workplace fatality rates of any sector
- Intrinsically dirty work involving heavy lifting, often as a team
- Working in close proximity in confined spaces, hoists, scaffolds and trenches
- Often non-existent welfare facilities
- Almost universal bogus ‘self-employment’ where workers won’t be paid if they don’t come in
Using the Law
Every worker should stay safe and put their own and family member’s safety above the profits of their employer. Blacklist Support Group urge all concerned workers in non-essential workplaces to talk to your fellow workers and collectively approach the boss to keep staff safe. If management refuse to positively respond to reasonable requests, then legislation provides protection to employees who move themselves from an unsafe workplace.
Section 44 (1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, specifically states:
An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by his employer done on the ground that:
(d)in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert, he left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to his place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work, or
(e)in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, he took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect himself or other persons from the danger.
Using this health and safety law, coronavirus walkouts have already been organised in construction, factories, distribution depots, Royal Mail. In the US walkouts by autoworkers have closed car plants and in Italy and Switzerland the unions led strikes to close down non-essential workplaces. Construction workers do not want to be working, with the potential of brining the virus back home to their loved ones. The mood of the industry and the whole nation is to shut non-essential building sites.
Any union officials or safety reps who are negotiating with managers about how to keep non-essential workplaces open should first and foremost talk to their members about what they actually want to happen. Then reconsider whether continuing production is likely to ensure the safety of workers and their families, or primarily benefit the company financially. Any union perceived by the workers as siding with management to keep non-essential businesses open, may suffer a backlash if the overwhelming mood of the workforce is to stay safe at home.
However agency workers and anyone classified as self-employed are not covered by this legal protection. Employment law is stacked in favor of the employers. So rather than merely quoting the law, groups of workers should join a union and approach their boss collectively. This will increase the likelihood of success and decrease the chance of any victimization.
The majority of construction workers are also classified as self-employed, which means that if they decide to self-isolate they will not be paid by the firm they’re actually working for. If they go off sick, they won’t get sick pay. This allows the big firms to extert pressure on building workers who need money to put food on the table.
The government scheme for self-employed workers is a joke. No one gets a penny until June. How are people supposed to pay their bills? People have every right to keep a roof over their heads.The government position is changing by the day and concerted pressure can bring about further changes. Rather than the hopeless self-employed scheme or Universal Credit of £95 a week, it would be more useful if the government made universal income payments of around £1000 to everyone in the country (as has happened in Hong Kong). No landlord or bank has a God given right to make a profit: the law of the land grants them that right, and the government can suspend that right. If the government suspended all rent, mortgage and interest payments for the next 3 months no one would be in fear of losing their home (as has happened in Italy).
Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)
Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt
USA: Amazon fires New York worker who led strike over coronavirus concerns read more in the Guardian
Chile: Support Vilma Alvarez (3 Apr)
Response to vote of censorship by the union executive against me and my expulsion.
Dear fellow members of the national board, last night (22.42) I read in the WhattsApp of the National Board, a statement sent by the president of the confederation Don Manuel Díaz, where I am intended to expel from the organization.
- My only intention as a union leader has always been the strong defence of the rights and life of workers. My behaviour does not violate any duty as a member of the Board.
- As a leader it is my duty to denounce the laws and opinions emanated from these governments and corrupt parliamentarians.
3 Proposing general strike is my right to free speech and I cannot be censored for that.
- Since the social burst, two roads have become clear, one is the street struggle and the general strike and the other the agreement of tripartite tables, entrepreneurs, workers and governments on shift.
- It is the first path I have defended inside and out of the confederacy and that is the big problem that today the executive led by Lord Diaz do not like.
- It is unacceptable, to be censorship for having different opinions and proposals, to which the executive committee has, is totally undemocratic and unconstitutional.
- That I have every right to belong to a political organization but never to use a trade union position for interests other than the defence of the rights and the lives of workers.
- as if Mr. Manuel Diaz does, participating in the name of the Confederation in the Socialist Party, a party that is seriously questioned by all citizenship as a narco party.
- It is public knowledge, that if he has endangered the unity and permanence of the organization has been Don Manuel Diaz, in the past has already been questioned for not abide by the agreements of the Walmart federation who has used his charge to back Mrs. Bachelet in exchange for who knows what benefits.
- It is very clear that we enter a new stage after the social outbreak and today amid a serious international economic and health crisis.
- Old methods of union make crises and it is the task of all honest leaders to make a turn otherwise we go straight to the cliff.
- The only unity is one that is made around a clear plan of struggle and claims, and for this we need truly resolute and honest leaders.
- Partners and colleagues after all the above, I request, not to consider my censorship or expulsion requested by the executive.
Jumbo Portal La Dehesa union President.
Director of the Coordinating Confederation of Trade, Financial and Brokering Services.
And protest emails to the union confederation where they are trying to expel her – the Co-ordinadora de Sindicatos del Comercio y Servicios Financieros at: [email protected]
July 4 – NSSN Conference 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL
September 13 – NSSN TUC Rally Brighton 1pm
PHONE 07952 283 558
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE