Join the NSSN public Zoom meeting to share experiences of how workers are fighting for PPE in the NHS and care system, posties are walking out to make Royal Mail management adhere to agreed safety practices and how London bus drivers sealed the front doors in response to the tragic deaths of their workmates.
3pm Sunday April 26th Facebook event – NSSN public meeting: workers fighting for safety during Covid-19
The meeting will also be discussing how we build for what is looks like becoming a global day of protest and action on the annual International Workers Memorial Day, this year on Tuesday April 28. Health unions have called for a minute’s silence at 11am on the day to remember all the health, care and key workers who have tragically passed away during the pandemic. This can be a focus for action and protests.
Never have the words “Remember the dead, fight for the living” been so important.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 834 6072 7169
Publicise your IWMD events and protests and follow others on our Facebook group: NSSN – defend workers’ rights under Coronavirus and Day of Action for Safety & Financial Security! Facebook event page, which the NSSN is co-hosting
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]
Watch ReelNews video: Trade Unionists pay tribute to fallen bus drivers
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.
Follow how unions are facing up to coronavirus globally via LabourStart and ReelNews
USA: Sign Fight for $15 petition: Tell McDonald’s: Give your workers paid sick leave NOW
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
Support the Whipps Cross workers – A webinar held by Waltham Forest Trades Council. 7pm Tuesday 21 April. Speakers include the Unite secretary for Bart’s Trust and a local para medic. Register here
Leeds TUC Public Zoom Meeting 7pm Wednesday 29th April Testing, PPE – Put our Safety First – Organise in your workplace Facebook event
Health unions call for minute’s silence to honour all workers who have died from coronavirus (20 Apr) – International Workers’ Memorial Day has renewed focus. The country is to be asked to observe a minute’s silence next Tuesday (28 April) to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus, in a campaign launched today (Monday) by three health unions. UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives – who between them represent more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff – are urging politicians, employers, people at work and those on lockdown at home to join the tribute at 11am. The minute’s silence – held on International Workers’ Memorial Day – will allow everyone to pay their respects and give thanks for the lives of those whose work involved caring, saving lives, keeping key services running and the rest of the country safe, say the unions. The tribute is also a show of support for the families of those who have died read more from Unison website
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
RMT slams Merseyrail contractors Mitie for “disgraceful and cynical opportunism” as company withdraws pay increase in midst of Covid-19 crisis (17 Apr) – RAIL UNION RMT today blasted Merseyrail station cleaning and facilities’ contractor Mitie for using the cover of the Covid-19 crisis to withdraw a pay award dated back to July last year. The union says it is a profiteering move that displays the most disgraceful and cynical opportunism in the midst of the current emergency. The pay offer, which RMT had fought hard for through a long campaign, would have lifted pay rates to £9 per hour, an important staging post in the union fight to get the workers onto the Real Living Wage read more
Logistics unions blast DHL for ‘endangering thousands’ with ‘inadequate’ Covid19 safety measures and sick pay (16 Apr) – Logistics unions in the UK have blasted DHL for ‘endangering thousands’ with ‘inadequate’ coronavirus social distancing and safety measures and by forcing self-isolating workers to survive on statutory sick pay (SSP). The Unite, GMB, USDAW, RMT and URTU trade unions today (Thursday 16 April) called on DHL, which employs around 41,000 people in the UK, to work with them to resolve its workforce’s concerns over Covid19 safety and the rate of pay for staff who are self-isolating or have been furloughed 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
Read the third weekly PCS update on negotiations and discussions (20 Apr) – This is the third of our weekly updates, keeping PCS members informed of the negotiations we’re having with their employers, and includes a video update from general secretary Mark Serwotka – join him live on Facebook at 7pm today ( Apr 21) read more
PCS slams lack of PPE for all Border Force staff at ports and airports following death (15 Apr) – PCS is demanding all Border Force staff are equipped with personal protective equipment as a matter of urgency, following a second death at Heathrow reportedly from Covid-19. A PCS member who died last week is the second in Border Force to reportedly die from Covid 19, following the tragic death of Sudhir Sharma who contracted the virus outside of work. We have demanded management takes action to protect members from the Corona virus and have slammed a lax attitude to safety. Reacting to the situation at Heathrow, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is a disgrace that management is refusing to provide PPE equipment to all Border Force staff who take risks every day dealing with the travelling public and keeping airports and ports safe 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
- Donate to the strike fund
- Send messages of support to [email protected]
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
BREAKING NEWS!! Unite saves agency workers at Bentley from redundancy during Covid-19 crisis (21 Apr) – Pressure from Britain’s leading union Unite, has prevented the employment agency Adecco from sacking hundreds of agency workers at the world-renowned luxury car manufacturer Bentley Motors. Earlier this month, around 200 agency workers based at Bentley’s site in Crewe were told they were being made redundant by Adecco, while the car manufacturer began temporarily ceasing production due to the COVID-19 health crisis. But a fierce intervention from Unite reversed Adecco’s decision and the agency workers have now been put into the government’s job retention scheme on 80 per cent of their pay read more
London bus workers and coronavirus – an update (21 Apr) – Unite lead officer for buses in London John Murphy said: “Since the start of this outbreak Unite has strongly raised the concerns of our members on London buses with bus operators, TfL and the Mayor. We are also applying pressure at the highest levels of government. “The deaths of those members of the London bus ‘family’, to whom we pay heartfelt tribute, makes the need for continuing safeguarding a paramount concern. Their deaths can’t be in vain. So far, we have secured the introduction of steps such as sick pay from day one, to make sure ill people weren’t starved into going to work. We have ensured operators adopted enhanced cleaning regimes, sealed assault screens and provided hand sanitisers for every driver. We have recently secured rear door boarding and every garage has a Unite safety officer monitoring all of these things and addressing issues as they arise. There is more to be done – personal protective equipment like sanitising wipes, masks and gloves must be available to drivers if they want it – and not all do – and face coverings should be compulsory for people using public transport. Testing in even the simplest form must be carried out urgently…” read more
Bruton challenged on Bord na Mona layoffs ahead of emergency board meeting today (Apr 21) – Workers must not pay price for Covid-19 emergency. Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton has this morning (Tuesday) been challenged to confirm whether he approved plans Bord na Mona to lay off over 200 workers on May 1st followed by a further 200 later in mid-May, and to ensure that any plans are halted pending Government formation. The call by Unite comes ahead of an emergency board meeting of the company later today read more
Warrington based JLR supplier furloughs workers on 100 per cent pay (20 Apr) – Unite, Britain’s leading union, has welcomed an excellent agreement with vehicle components supplier Plastic Omnium in Warrington to furlough workers on full pay during the COVID-19 lockdown. Under the job retention scheme, workers can receive 80 per cent of their wages from the government up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The agreement with Plastic Omnium means the company will meet the cost of an additional 20 per cent for around 150 full-time workers to bring them up to 100 per cent of pay. Plastic Omnium is a major supplier of exterior components to automotive clients including Jaguar Land Rover read more
Unite calls for urgent talks with transport secretary as UK’s 82,000 taxi drivers ‘face financial ruin’ (20 Apr) – Unite the union put forward a six-point plan to government today (Monday 20 April) to save the UK’s 82,000 taxi drivers from financial ruin, even destitution, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unite said that the 82,000 figure was the equivalent of the whole population of Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire facing the prospect of no work, no income and no hope. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps asking for an urgent meeting, as Unite taxi drivers report a slump in income of 95 per cent and some making just £10 after seven hours working in London read more
Unions demand London building sites stagger start times to avoid Covid19 transport congestion (19 Apr) – London construction sites scheduled to reopen on Monday (20 April) must stagger their opening times to avoid congestion and the spread of coronavirus on London’s bus and transport system, building and transport unions said today (Sunday 19 April). Construction and bus workers union Unite, along with the train drivers union ASLEF, said construction sites must stagger start and finish times so thousands of workers are not travelling en masse on the same buses and tubes. More than 20 transport workers in London have died from coronavirus, with the majority of victims working as bus drivers. The unions said that without firm action by construction companies safety measures to stop the spread of the disease on public transport, including the implementation of central door only loading secured by Unite, risk being undone read more
Unite to honour London’s fallen bus workers during minute’s silence and demands more protections
Unite statement on personal protective equipment (PPE) ‘scandal’ (18 Apr) – Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The continued lack of PPE is a national scandal and the government’s litany of broken promises over the last month is shameful. “The public is looking on aghast as brave doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are risking their lives to provide care to very sick patients – yet, they don’t have the necessary protection to carry out their roles. Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock needs to sort out the logjam in PPE supplies urgently, otherwise he may have to consider his position as this situation can’t continue, as health professionals would be quite right to decline to put themselves in danger…” read more
London bus measures welcome but government and public must play part (17 Apr) – Commenting on the announcement by Transport for London (TfL) that central door only loading will be now imposed on London buses, Unite’s London and Eastern regional secretary Pete Kavanagh said: “Unite has been demanding central boarding as an essential safety measure during these times because bus workers are, understandably, fearful for their health. It is reassuring that the Mayor and TfL have listened and acted now to protect this workforce. We would like to thank the trade unions and members of the public who have shown such solidarity and support for our bus workers during this dreadful period. The extra safety measures now in place show why it is so important that workers are represented by strong trade unions. We have 20,000 bus workers across the capital. They have lost colleagues and friends in recent weeks – with the total number of deaths now at 20. They need to see all the support that they can muster from the Mayor, the employers and TfL so that they can assure their loved ones that they are being kept safe at work…” read more
Unite resolves health and safety concerns of refuse workers at Perth and Kinross council (17 Apr) – Unite Scotland has today (17 April) welcomed an agreement with Perth and Kinross council following numerous reports that refuse workers’ health and safety was being put at risk at the Friarton depot. This was due to the council’s stance on maintaining three operatives in a bin lorry. Most local authorities across Scotland have now moved to a maximum of two operatives in a lorry, while others have been operating with just the driver in the cab with the rest of the crew following behind in separate vehicles. However, following constructive talks with Perth and Kinross council, Unite is pleased that an agreement has been reached to move to a maximum of two operatives in a lorry and one operator following behind in a separate vehicle read more
Kerry Foods denies furlough to front-line workers despite medical advice that they should be shielding (Apr 16) – Liam Gallagher, Unite Regional Officer for workers at Kerry Foods in Coleraine, Enniskillen and Omagh challenged management on their refusal to extend furlough to vulnerable, low-paid workers. “A number of employees who provided management with written, medical evidence that they should shield as vulnerable workers, in line with the Public Health Authority guidelines, have been refused furlough by Kerry Foods…” 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
Royal Mail workers voted 94.5% in re-ballot. These are video updates from CWU GS Dave Ward and DGS Postal Terry Pullinger
CWU win for BT members living with Covid 19 ‘extremely vulnerable’ (Apr 20) – An important breakthrough has today (Monday) been finalised by the union on behalf of members across BT Group who live with individuals deemed to be at especially high risk of life-threatening complications if they contract Covid 19. Ever since the Government notified 1.8 million people that they should isolate themselves at home to protect themselves from coronavirus, the CWU has been pressurising BT to address a glaring inconsistency in its guidance to staff that left those who are not ‘extremely vulnerable’ themselves, but who live with loved-ones who are, with an agonising dilemma read more
Workers ‘empowered’ after ASDA workers victory (20 Apr) – Workers at ASDA’s Lymedale distribution centre are celebrating after securing safer conditions following a dispute over social distancing rules in the workplace. A torrent of complaints poured out of the site after ASDA insisted workers continue working at its distribution centre for George clothing, despite the stores being closed. Workers were packed onto buses and sent to other sites as far away as Warrington and Skelmersdale, sometimes spending more than an hour in cramped conditions in clear violation of the social distancing rules. The workers were so distressed that they started a public petition for the site to be closed read more
“Reckless and unnecessary” plans leave council workers at risk (17 Apr) – GMB & UNISON unions have hit out at Merthyr Tydfil CBC plans to re-open its civic amenity sites. GMB & UNISON have slammed Merthyr Tydfil CBC over the decision to reopen its civic amenity sites in Dowlais and Aberfan from Monday. They described any move as “reckless and unnecessary”, and will be advising staff not to return to work until a proper risk assessment has been filled out. The plans surfaced, just a day before the Welsh Government moved to extend the nationwide lockdown to protect against the spread of COVID-19. GMB & UNISON claim that they have not been consulted on any move, and that the re-opening of the sites contravenes Welsh Government guidelines read more
Minimum wage for furloughed workers ‘must be honoured’ (16 Apr) – GMB Union has today written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to demand that furloughed workers be paid no less than minimum wage rates under the government’s Job Retention Scheme. The government’s current guidance states that ‘furloughed workers who are not working can be paid the lower of 80% of their salary or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below their appropriate minimum wage.’ The only exception is for time spent on mandatory training while furloughed read more
Sign petition: Requisition private hospital beds to help NHS with coronavirus
Council workers keeping vital local services running deserve a proper pay rise, say unions. Chancellor urged to fund top up to pay offer (16 Apr) – Staff keeping vital local services running – including schools, refuse collection and child protection – during the pandemic deserve a proper pay rise, say the three unions representing council staff in England and Wales today (Thursday). Responding to the 2.75% pay offer for 2020/21 made today by the Local Government Association (LGA), UNISON, Unite and the GMB are urging the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other ministers to heed the call from the local government employers to fund a top up to reward council and school support staff. A much-needed increase would ensure that social workers, teaching assistants, refuse collectors and others – who are going above and beyond during the crisis – can have a decent pay rise. The three unions say the LGA offer – which also includes an extra day of leave for some – falls well short of their 10% claim for this year. They add that it fails to recognise the hard work of local government staff in keeping services running while the country is in lockdown read more
Half of nursing staff under pressure to work without PPE (18 Apr) – Our survey reveals thousands of nursing professionals from across the UK are being asked to work without the right personal protective equipment (PPE) or to reuse single-use items read more
Today We Stand With Lyra – remembering Lyra McKee (18 Apr) – Today at 11am NUJ members will join in solidarity and remembrance to mark the 1st anniversary of the killing of journalist and NUJ member Lyra McKee. The commemoration intends to celebrate her life and legacy read more
WMT must work with TSSA reps to protect your safety or face action! (20 Apr) – Our union demands that WMT start to engage properly with our reps on Covid-19 or face the risk of industrial action read more
TSSA supports TfL furlough but calls on government for more support (17 Apr) – Following extensive talks with Transport for London, transport union TSSA is today supporting moves by the company to furlough staff up to 31 May, or the minimum three week period. The move comes after the government refused to provide financial support for TfL unless staff were furloughed read more
London building sites should stagger start times to avoid covid-19 congestion (20 Apr) – ASLEF has backed a call by Unite, the union that represents many construction workers, that construction sites scheduled to reopen today [Monday 20 April] should stagger their starting times to avoid social distancing problems on public transport read more
Over 80,000 have signed the NEU petition to “open schools when it is safe” and the number continues to grow (17 Apr) – Commenting on the petition (1), which was launched on Tuesday night and has already clocked up 83,887 signatures, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Loose talk costs lives, and unfortunately there has been far too much unhelpful speculation about when schools might fully re-open. The persistent press coverage deeply concerns our members, who would be at immediate risk if Government was too hasty in relaxing lockdown measures” read more
Bringing pupils into school to undertake assessments is unacceptable (16 Apr) – Commenting on reports that some schools are bringing pupils onsite to complete mock examinations or other assessments, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said: “The Government has been clear that schools are open only for the children of key workers and for those pupils who have been identified as vulnerable. Therefore, it beggars belief that some pupils are being required to travel to school to complete mock examinations and other assessments to support the process of producing centre assessed GCSE and A-level grades for exam boards. Ofqual and the Department for Education have confirmed that there is no need for any additional assessment material to be produced to support this process and that examination centres must act in accordance with Government instructions. Such practices must cease immediately” read more
EIS Attacks Shetland Islands Council Proposal to Privatise Shetland College ‘Behind Closed Doors’ During COVID-19 Pandemic (17 Apr) – Shetland Islands Council are pushing ahead with the next stage of their decision-making on the merger of Shetland College, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The Council are due to take a decision, without public scrutiny, on Wednesday 22nd April, 10am, on a recommendation that it outsource the college from Council control into a new entity which will be a private limited company. This would be the first direct privatisation of further education in Scotland. Furthermore, Councillors will be making this decision behind closed doors on Wednesday based on financial figures calculated pre-pandemic. The EIS is extremely concerned about the lack of consultation and due diligence to ensure that public money is being well spent at time of grave financial uncertainty. The EIS-FELA Shetland branch were previously advised they could attend the meeting as observers. It is unclear why this decision has been overturned read more
Durham University must halt plans to slash teaching by 25%, says UCU (16 Apr) – According to leaked plans, reported in the student newspaper Palatinate, the university wants to slash face-to-face teaching by as much as 25% , and outsource its online learning to private providers. UCU said universities should not see the global pandemic as an opportunity to try and drastically alter their different business models, and that Durham had to consult properly with staff and students over any changes read more
Fire and rescue staff eligible for coronavirus testing, after FBU pressure (17 Apr) – Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that fire and rescue personnel, police, prison staff, and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) workers will now be eligible for coronavirus testing, in a session of the Health and Social Care Committee. It comes after sustained pressure from the FBU, calling on the government to secure COVID-19 tests for firefighters and control staff. The FBU wrote to ministers across the UK on 20 March and slammed the Westminster government earlier this week for failing to secure tests for personnel in England, as testing began in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whilst welcoming the development, the FBU raised concerns about the eligibility criteria for being granted a test as well as the accessibility of the testing centres 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
Boohoo condemned by Usdaw for marketing useless face masks when their staff are left without adequate PPE (19 Apr) – Usdaw, the trade union for workers at the Boohoo warehouse in Burnley, has condemned the online retailer for marketing new face masks as a fashion item. Usdaw has consistently raised deep concerns about Boohoo staff at risk because of inadequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and failures to reorganise working practices to ensure necessary social distancing read more
Prospect to take Prestwick Air Maintenance to employment tribunal (20 Apr) – Prospect has started the process of taking claims to an employment tribunal on behalf of members at Prestwick Air Maintenance Ltd who were dismissed for refusing to accept a 50% pay cut. The first step is to file an early conciliation request with ACAS, the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service. This is a mandatory step before bringing a full employment tribunal claim read more
Prospect to take Prestwick Air Maintenance to employment tribunal (20 Apr) – Prospect has started the process of taking claims to an employment tribunal on behalf of members at Prestwick Air Maintenance Ltd who were dismissed for refusing to accept a 50% pay cut. The first step is to file an early conciliation request with ACAS, the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service. This is a mandatory step before bringing a full employment tribunal claim. PAML still has the option to enter into discussions to settle claims at any time. However, if it does not, Prospect will advance to employment tribunals, which is likely to take months. Prospect will continue to support members throughout the tribunal process read more
HSC Member Update (17 Apr) – NIPSA wanted to update you on the work that has been ongoing on behalf of our members to ensure your health and safety during this unprecedented time. This is a lengthy update, but there are important issues to be covered and we wanted to ensure you had a full update as to what NIPSA has been doing on your behalf read more
Mandate condemn Supervalu Kavanagh Group for failing to recognise and reward its staff (16 Apr) – Local retailer Kavanagh Group which currently operates 9 large Supervalu stores in Donegal, Mayo and Galway have been slammed by Mandate Trade Union for not properly rewarding the efforts of its employees during the Covid-19 Pandemic. While other retailers have quickly moved to reward their staff by paying them extra for every hour worked during the crisis, Kavanagh Group are presenting some of their staff Supervalu Gift Card’s worth €300 paid over three four weekly instalments read more
From PCS website: The workers who made a Plan for a sustainable future
The film The Plan that Came from the Bottom is proving an inspiration to a new generation of trade unionists and activists who want to empower workforces to make socially-useful products and create a sustainable economy. We look at the story of the Lucas Aerospace workers, which resonates more than ever.
Part film essay, part documentary The Plan tells the story of how a group of British engineers, who were also union reps working for Lucas Aerospace, came to be nominated for the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize when they decided to make wind turbines instead of military equipment.
Around half of Lucas’s production was defence-related. In 1976, the Lucas Aerospace Combined Shop Stewards Committee produced an Alternative Corporate Plan for the company, which advocated the production of socially-useful products.
Their action was in response to management announcing the need to cut jobs as increased international competition was threatening Lucas’s markets. The film documents how the plan was prepared, based on the knowledge, expertise and skills of the workforce.
Workers across 17 factories and eight trade unions came together to develop their alternative plan, coming up with a corporate strategy to make 150 socially-useful products, developed on the shop floor, for a more sustainable world – products whose manufacture would create jobs
Read more on the film and how to download it
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
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
FACEBOOK NSSN GROUP or STOP The CUTS Likes page
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE