Workers are confused and angry after Boris Johnson’s announcement the Tories want to ease the COVID-19 lockdown while deaths are rising, test targets are missed and imported PPE fails to meet NHS safety standards. In fact, if many workers and their union branches hadn’t made their intention clear not to accept a wholesale ‘return to normal’ message, it is quite probable the government would have been even more reckless in their pursuit of profits for their big business friends.
Workers have difficulty understanding Boris Johnson’s bumbling announcements, never mind trusting him, his government or the bosses to guarantee our safety.
We need trade union and workers control over workplace safety. We should only be in work or return to work when it’s safe. We need a coordinated response and action across the unions against the Tory plans that put profits before workers’ safety.
Come and discuss how we organise in the NSSN public meeting ‘Tories want to lift lockdown…Workers Safety before Profits!’ on Zoom this coming Saturday May 16th at 3pm Facebook event
Meeting ID – 874 3501 9596
Password – 934253
Listen to LBC Radio interview with NSSN Chair Rob Williams on Boris Johnson’s Return to Work plans
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: Nurses block Westminster Bridge demanding proper PPE on International Workers Memorial Day
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.
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.
Sign petition: To Welsh Government – For an immediate 10% pay rise for health, care and key workers. Sponsored by Cardiff County Trades Union Council, Swansea Trades Council, Caerphilly Trades Council
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 on 1,100 job losses at P&O Ferries (11 May) – Responding to the news of over 1,000 job losses on P&O’s key routes from Dover and Hull to the continent RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “This is devastating news and an appalling betrayal of the P&O work force. This is a kick in the teeth for P&O seafarers who have maintained key supply lines to the UK during the Covid -19 pandemic…We are seeking urgent talks with the company and will fight tooth and nail against these job losses and we are calling on the government to step in now and nationalise these services to protect jobs and the UK’s maritime interests.” Read more
RMT on today’s Office of National Statistic figures revealing bus and taxi drivers have raised risk of COVID-19 death (11 May) – TRANSPORT UNION RMT is demanding that the Government take urgent action in the wake of figures published today by the ONS which show that male bus and taxi drivers were amongst the occupations with a raised rate of death involving COVID-19. The union is calling for the protection of workers in these sectors, and for the convening of a National Coronavirus Safety Summit to agree a national plan to protect workers and passengers in the sector read more
RMT issues fresh COVID-19 advice to members (10 Apr) – RMT issues fresh advice to members not to work in unsafe COVID-19 conditions as union warns that confused Government messaging today could have lethal consequences. TRANSPORT UNION RMT today issued fresh guidance to members across rail and tube to refuse to work where safety is compromised due to the potentially lethal consequences of the Governments confused and contradictory messaging over the COVID-19 lockdown. The union warning has come as it has become clear that the Government is shifting away from the stay at home message, unleashing a surge in passengers on rail and tube from tomorrow, breaching social distancing measures with potentially lethal consequences for both staff and the public read more
RMT sounds warning over dash to jack up transport service from 18th May (8 May) – General Secretary Mick Cash said; “There is a headlong dash to lift the lockdown on our transport services for the 18th May and it is fraught with danger for both passengers and staff alike. To maintain the Governments own social distancing guidance would mean huge logistical and staffing input to manage passenger flows onto trains and it is imperative that all staff involved in this process are properly protected” 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
“All bets are off” if passenger levels become crowded and dangerous (11 May) – On a call with Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris today, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes warned that if public transport passenger numbers increase to dangerous levels then “all bets are off”. Following the Prime Minister’s unexpected message yesterday to “actively encourage” people to go back to work despite limitations on public transport, a call between the Department for Transport, rail unions, the rail minister, Transport for London, and the Health and Safety Executive took place today (Monday). Union leaders expressed concerns about the sudden change in message, lack of warning and the potential impact this could have on public transport passenger levels. No additional services are yet running and capacity remains significantly reduced read more
Mixed messaging is dangerous – we won’t allow our members to be Covid-19 cannon fodder (10 May) – Commenting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of some limited easing of lockdown measures, transport union TSSA has warned that mixed messages are “disappointing and frankly dangerous”. With no additional transport services due to run this week, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes warned: “I am calling on rail bosses to close down services and/or stations if physical distancing of at least two metres can’t be maintained. The Prime Minister said: “Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction and manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work”. He also said: “you should avoid public transport if at all possible”. There are no additional public transport services planned this week and with social distancing measures in place the capacity therefore has not increased. This raises serious questions about the strain on transport services and staff and the ability to maintain social distancing…” read more
TSSA slams South Western Railway for flouting stay at home guidance (7 May) – Rail union TSSA has slammed South Western Railway (SWR) for forcing staff to come into offices when their work could be performed from home. The company’s actions are in clear contradiction to government guidance to stay home and for everyone who can work from home to do so. Staff working in Customer Contact Centre and Video Contact Centre roles are concerned about maintaining social distancing in those workplaces, which they fear will be almost impossible to adhere to. Staff have already been asked to come into the office when the work could easily have been done remotely and the company has been reluctant to stand down vulnerable employees. Many other rail operators have set their staff up to perform these duties remotely working from home. TSSA flagged health and safety concerns with SWR this week but was told by the company that “no laptops can be bought or found anywhere” read more
Safety must come first to ease lockdown (10 May) – General Secretary Mick Whelan’s comments on the Prime Minister’s speech this evening (10th May 2020). ‘Whilst we welcome the continued measures to retain the lockdown, and the request that the public refrain from using public transport, with no clear guidance on the staggering of starting and finishing times in either construction or manufacturing, we are concerned that social distancing will not be maintained. The message around unlimited exercise, and the self-policing of it will make it now impossible to differentiate between those travelling as key workers and in those areas where return to work has been encouraged, and those who are not. Rightly, social distancing limits capacity on public transport and, if we believe that staff or public are being put at risk, we will not hesitate to ensure all are protected.’ Read more
Inquiry needed as low paid workers at greatest risk of COVID-19 deaths (11 May) – Unite which represents many different groups of frontline workers is calling for a full public inquiry to be undertaken to understand how and why low paid workers appear to be at most risk of dying from COVID-19. The union made its call following the Office for National Statistics publication today (Monday 11 May) of its finding on COVID-19 deaths by profession up to 20 April. The highest number of deaths were recorded in the social care sector with a total of 131 deaths recorded. Within those figure there were a total of 86 deaths of female workers (9.6 deaths per 100,000 workers) and 45 deaths (23.4 per 100,000) among male workers in the sector. The second highest number of deaths were taxi drivers where there had been 77 deaths with a mortality rate of 36.4 per 100,000 read more
Mental health issues top of workers’ lockdown concerns (11 May) – A survey by Unite has found that workers’ concerns about their mental health have increased dramatically since the lockdown began. As a result Unite is calling on employers to take a proactive approach to dealing with employees’ mental health challenges immediately as workers return to the workforce and begin to adjust to revised working conditions. Unite surveyed 22,000 workplace activists and just under two thirds (65 per cent) of respondents recorded that they had to deal with an increase in members’ mental health concerns read more
Nothing less than full application of trade union key tests for school reopening is acceptable (8 May) – Speaking about the TUC’s joint statement outlining the measures needed for the safe reopening of schools, sent to the Secretary of State for Education on behalf of unions with members in the education sector, Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “As the Prime Minister moves impatiently to a premature easing of the lockdown, it is essential we have in place the safeguards that protect our workers and communities. “The public support for our essential workers across the public sector has shown that they will not accept another botched process, Boris Johnson has been exposed for his, and the government’s, catastrophic handling of this crisis and I sure we are all fed up to the back teeth with his jingoistic language as some sort of elixir to the daily tragedies our communities are suffering. Our school support staff, teachers, pupils, parents and relatives are rightly concerned and alarmed at the thought of a hasty programme to reopen our schools, therefore the school support staff unions including Unite, teaching unions and the TUC have set out the key principles and tests that must be met before that can happen…” read more
Covid-19 clusters in Northern Ireland meatpacking sector point to urgent need for sector-specific infection controls to protect workers (May 10) – Immediate programme of testing with quick turnaround needed for all meatpacking workers and their families along with wider package of measures including, where necessary, temporary closures for deep-cleanses without loss of pay. Fears that meatpacking sites here could experience outbreaks similar to those in USA and Brazil where tens of thousands of workers have caught Covid-19 and scores have died read more
BA staff paying with their jobs for ’massive error’ on fuel price hedging, says Unite (7 May) – British Airways owner IAG expects its employees to pay with their jobs after the company made ‘a massive error’ in losing €1.3bn on hedging fuel prices. Unite said today (Thursday 7 May). Unite was also critical that the company had accessed a £300 million coronavirus corporate loan, administered by the Bank of England, while at the same time announcing that it was planning to axe 12,000 BA employees read more
Sign this petition: BA mass sackings of its UK workforce is immoral and possibly illegal its time to act
‘Reckoning’ needed on disproportionate Covid-19 deaths amongst black and Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage people (7 May) – Unite national officer for equalities Harish Patel said: “The ONS figures showing that black people and those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage are more likely to die from Covid-19 is disturbing in the extreme. “As a country we cannot ignore the structures of inequality that still plague many ethnic minority communities and that have had a major part to play in the disproportionate amount of suffering people of colour have experienced during the pandemic. Discrimination and inequalities, whether that’s through overcrowded housing, greater risk of health vulnerabilities or economic disadvantage, are a fact of life for black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people in modern Britain…” read more
Workers’ intervention delivers benchmark agreement at FedEx amid coronavirus outbreak (7 May) – A campaign by Unite has delivered a benchmark agreement with FedEx in the East Midlands to protect essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the initial phase of government’s restrictions last month, workers at FedEx in the East Midlands (which delivers parcels, documents and freight consignments) submitted a collective grievance, calling for the company to ensure robust workplace protections were put in place against the coronavirus. The company responded immediately and agreed to introduce all of Unite’s recommendations, alongside a comprehensive action plan to ensure the safety of the workforce. The agreement which is now in place sets a benchmark in best practice nationally across the company read more
Construction workers at Manchester Airport ‘left high and dry’ (6 May) – Construction workers at Manchester Airport have been ‘left high and dry, without pay’, by the construction company JCK and the Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater Manchester’s ten councils, which have a 64.5 per cent stake in the airport, are providing a £250 million package to support the airport but have so far failed to intervene on behalf of the struggling workers. Unite is calling on Manchester Airport Group (MAG) to use its influence to ensure the 70 skilled workers get financial support. The union has also approached the Greater Manchester Councils which have a major stake in the airport, but the stakeholders are disgracefully abdicating responsibility for the workers. The only investor to have expressed any concern for the welfare of the workers is IFM, an Australian investment fund read more
Agency accused of ‘bad faith’ over no furlough pay for 300 workers in Derby and the north east (6 May) – The Giant agency has been accused of ‘bad faith’ after appearing to renege on a promise to furlough about 300 workers working on Rolls-Royce contracts in Derby and Washington in the north east – which means they have not been paid for a month. Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said that Giant had promised on 17 April that the workers would be furloughed under the government job retention scheme (JRS) which means that they would receive at least 80 per cent of their pay. But Unite said its members had not received a penny in the last month which had left them in dire financial straits and that confusion reigns with mixed messages from the company over the progress or not of the JRS application. The union estimates that about 270 workers were on the Derby contract and 27 at Washington read more
Sign this petition: Reinstatement of Blue Handling employees laid off due to COVID-19 and placed on Furlough – With the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic many staff were laid off from Blue Handling due to an unprecedented restriction in travel. The aim of this petition is to demand the reinstatement of those colleagues who were laid off and be placed on the Governments Job Retention scheme (furlough). There is no reason why our colleagues should not be Furloughed and receive 80% of their wages for as long as the Job Retention scheme exists Unite: Anger as Ryanair’s ground handler sacks workers instead of using furlough scheme
Sign this petition: Please sign and share: Extend the bereaved family payment to UK bus workers now – every bus worker who loses their life because of coronavirus deserves to get the £60,000 life assurance cover alongside NHS and social care staff. Dozens have tragically lost their lives. They are going above and beyond the call of duty. It is only right that their families are given the same financial protections. Help support bus workers and their families. Extend and increase the bereaved family payment now 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
7pm 14 May Join the PCS Facebook Live event – PCS is running a Facebook live event at 7pm on Thursday (14), so send in your coronavirus-related questions and tune into our Facebook page on the night. The event, chaired by PCS President Fran Heathcote, will hear an update from our general secretary Mark Serwotka on negotiations with the Cabinet Office and address members’ concerns about work and their well-being. He will also answer members’ questions, alongside the presidents of our two largest groups:
Martin Cavanagh (DWP) Lorna Merry (HMRC).
PCS condemns Boris Johnson’s convoluted Covid-19 advice (11 May) – The union has heavily criticised the Prime Minister for his convoluted advice which will put the lives of tens of thousands of workers’ at risk. Mr Johnson addressed the nation yesterday where he said there would be a ‘roadmap’ for easing and ultimately ending the lockdown, saying those who could not work from home, should go to work read more
PCS statement on Covid-19 (11 May) – The PCS Senior Officers’ Committee met today and agreed that the Prime Minister’s announced changes to the lockdown guidance are unjustified and potentially dangerous, and have caused widespread confusion. Mark Sedwill, Head of the UK Civil Service, has issued a message to civil service staff endorsing the PM’s announcement. We will be meeting with Cabinet Office officials tomorrow, 12 May, to clarify what, if anything, may change in the light of the PM’s statement and that of Mr Sedwill. In the meantime, the union’s advice remains unchanged: that if you are one of the majority of members working at home you should continue to do so unless and until you are advised differently following tomorrow’s meeting. We believe that more people should be working at home, but if you are in a workplace, you have the right to safe and healthy working conditions, including social distancing 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
ONS Covid-19 death figures ‘horrifying’ (11 May) – If you are low paid and working through the COVID-19 crisis you are more likely to die says GMB Union. GMB, the union for keyworkers, has described today’s ONS figures on Covid-19 related deaths as ‘horrifying’ read more
Wider schools reopening needs science-based approach (8 May) – GMB, the union for school staff, has led a joint union call on for a science-based approach to the wider reopening of schools. A coalition comprising of all the major education unions has written to the Secretary of State for Education outlining key tests that must be met before schools are reopening to more pupils. Protecting lives of pupils, communities and staff must be top priority, the letter tells the education secretary read more
GMB slams ‘cynical and opportunistic’ BA (7 May) – GMB has slammed British Airways (BA) after firm announced 12,000 job cuts and swingeing attacks on pay and conditions while trousering a fortune in taxpayer cash. The airline announced the cuts after claiming hundreds of thousands in tax payer funds through the Government’s Job Retention Scheme – the very aim of which is to protect jobs and mitigate redundancies. GMB has also accused BA of double dipping after the company received £300m from the Coronavirus Corporate Finance Facility to boost liquidity, despite IAG claiming that it was already in a ‘very strong liquidity position’ read more
Government must explain how school staff and pupils will be kept safe (11 May) – Ministers need to work with unions to create safe schools. Ministers must stop dodging the issue of safety and provide a clear explanation of how schools keep pupils, staff and parents safe before any mass reopening, says UNISON responding to the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy published today (Monday). School support staff are worried at what they see as the government’s ‘cavalier’ approach to safety in English schools, which will needlessly put their health, and that of children and parents, at risk, UNISON says read more
The return to work must be safe, says UNISON (10 May) – PPE and testing must be properly in place before mass return. Commenting on the Prime Minister’s address to the nation today (Sunday), UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The return to work must be safe. There must be no cutting corners, no playing fast and loose with employees’ safety. The economy is important, but lives are too. If safety isn’t paramount, then infections will increase and there’ll be a second wave that risks overwhelming the NHS and social care…” read more
Action needed to address higher coronavirus death rates for Black people (7 May) – Higher-risk job roles must be examined. Commenting on figures released today (Thursday) by the Office for National Statistics showing disproportionately high Covid-19 death rates for Black people, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Time and again, we’ve seen how people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities suffer health problems caused by disadvantage and poverty, which could make them more susceptible. Tackling the causes of these social issues is long overdue…” read more
Care Workers vs COVID-19 – The Importance of Trade Unions and Collective Strength in Social Care – The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of trade unions and the need for social care workers to have a strong voice at work. Join UNISON North West for an informal online session on how you can work with your colleagues to build a safer and better workplace through your trade union. What are your rights about working in a safe environment? How do you raise a health and safety concern at work? What should be in a risk assessment? And how do you challenge management collectively?
Who: This bitesize session is aimed at all social care members and activists within the North West who are interested in building a stronger workplace union
When: Online sessions will last one hour and will be held on Thursday 21st May at 4pm and Tuesday 2nd June at 4pm (you only need to attend one session)
RCN calls on government to take urgent action on nursing students’ fees and debt (6 May) – We’re calling on the government to recognise the continued contribution of nursing students to the workforce read more
Members survey on Prime Minister’s roadmap (10 May) – 49k NEU members in one hour respond to survey giving a resounding NO to Prime Ministers roadmap for school reopening. Within one hour 49,000 members of the National Education Union (NEU) responded to a survey about the Government’s announcement tonight. They have given a resounding NO to the Prime Ministers’s roadmap for wider school reopening. 85 per cent of respondents said they disagreed with Boris Johnson’s plans to restart lessons for reception, year 1 and year 6 from 1 June. 92 per cent said they would not feel safe with the proposed wider opening of schools read more
Phased return of schools (10 May) – Prime Minister’s announcement on return of schools is nothing short of reckless read more
Prime Minister’s announcement does little to assuage teachers’ concerns about the premature reopening of schools (10 May) – Responding to tonight’s statement from the Prime Minister, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said: “The Prime Minister’s statement that it would be “madness” to risk a second spike in transmission of the Coronavirus highlights the need for extreme caution. Regrettably, the Prime Minister’s announcement is likely to provoke confusion and does not address the genuine concerns that have been raised by teachers” read more
NASUWT campaigning secures appropriate pay for furloughed supply teachers from some umbrella companies (8 May) – Following campaigning by the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, the union has been made aware that some umbrella companies have now decided to furlough hardworking and dedicated supply teachers and pay them appropriately under the Job Retention Scheme, as opposed to 80% the National Minimum Wage (NMW) read more
Scottish funding boost for universities highlights need for urgent support from Westminster (6 May) – UCU today welcomed a funding boost from the Scottish government for universities and said the Westminster government had to provide the funding and support required to protect universities from potentially huge losses in income. A report last month for UCU highlighted a £2.5bn black hole caused by the loss of funding from student fees and teaching grants. It warned that the UK economy faced a £6bn hit and a loss of 62,000 jobs without urgent government intervention read more
Firefighters honour fallen colleagues on Firefighters’ Memorial Day (8 May) – On 4 May, firefighters, MPs and the public came together for Firefighters’ Memorial Day to remember the firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. At midday, on-duty firefighters across the UK stood outside their fire stations for a minute’s silence and sounded sirens in honour of their fallen brothers and sisters. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack laid a wreath on behalf of the FBU at the National Firefighters’ Memorial at St Paul’s, alongside Sarah Mullallay, Bishop of London, and Mia Holborn, London Fire Brigade Chaplain, on behalf of the Firefighters’ Memorial Trust. Members of the public joined in the minute’s silence through a livestream of the wreath-laying on the FBU’s Facebook page. Matt Wrack also addressed members in a Zoom call, alongside FBU president Ian Murray and FBU national officer Tam McFarlane. He paid tribute to firefighters Simon Kaye, Stevie Kerridge, and Josh Gardner, who lost their lives in the line of duty this year, as well as colleagues who have died from coronavirus in the USA and Italy read more
WE NEED YOU: FBU explores pension compensation claims (6 May) – The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is looking at potential compensation claims for members who suffered unlawful age discrimination following the 2015 attacks on firefighter pensions. The union is asking all affected members who did not file a claim in 2015 to register on the FBU website. The action comes as a result of the FBU winning a significant victory in 2019 on pension provision for members who were discriminated against on the grounds of their age. The FBU is now looking at potential claims to compensate members for the financial hardship and also distress, upset and anger – described by lawyers as “injury to feelings” – that may have been caused read more
Assurances sought for members as O2/Virgin Media tie-up plans are confirmed (May 7) – The CWU has already flagged up job security and the protection of members’ terms and conditions of employment as the union’s number one priority in the discussions that that will follow this morning’s announcement of a potentially industry-changing tie-up between O2 and Virgin Media read more
Urgent answers demanded from ISS amid ‘furlough’ pay cut fury (May 6) – The CWU has challenged ISS to honour by its original pledge that any former BTFS staff furloughed as a result of disruption caused by coronavirus would continue to receive 100% of their salaries. Following an abrupt u-turn by the company – which has now informed the union that any furloughed staff will only receive the 80% of their salary that is funded by the Government – the CWU has registered its ‘extreme anger’ at a move that represents a 20% pay cut for members who have already suffered huge turmoil since the disputed outsourcing of BT Facility Services last year 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
Safety first is the only way lockdown measures can be eased says USDAW (10 May) – Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has responded to the Prime Minister’s statement by urging a safety first approach to easing lockdown measures. The union cautions non-food retailers not to open until they can guarantee staff and customer safety and urges them to adopt the joint advice agreed with the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Usdaw is calling on businesses to work with trade unions to carry out risk assessments in workplaces before re-opening for business read more
Lincolnshire Co-op urged by Usdaw to end their ‘mean-spirited’ response to furloughed, self-isolating and vulnerable staff (7 May) – Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging Lincolnshire Co-operative to end the removal of staff discount from their employees who are furloughed and fully pay vulnerable staff off work and those who are self-isolating, so they don’t have to survive on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of just £95.85 per week read more
Sign the USDAW Activist petition: sign and share our petition around Sunday trading, especially as the government has now said they are reviewing the legislation with a view to allow supermarkets to extend trading
Update for all Debenhams members (8 May) – Mandate Trade Union’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light issues an important update for all Debenhams members. As Mandate will be conducting a ballot for industrial action in the coming days, we will need your contact details in order to ensure you receive your ballot paper in adequate time. Please update your contact details as soon as possible here
Prospect will be urgently raising the matter of NTS with the Scottish Government (12 May) – National Trust Scotland (NTS) has announced that more than 400 of its staff are at risk of redundancy. NTS says it has lost the majority of its income due to corona virus and has also said it will look to sell off non-heritage land and property, and seek support from the Scottish government and grant-giving bodies read more
BT must prioritise jobs and bonuses in light of end-year results, says Prospect (7 May) – Prospect has renewed its call on BT to pause its redundancy programme, and urged the company to reward managers in light of its end of year results read more
Prospect archaeologists agree industry statement on safer working (7 May) – A statement promoting safer working environments on constructions sites during the COVID-19 pandemic has been agreed by the Archaeology Industry Working Group, the influential body of which Prospect is a key member read more
NIPSA Responds to the Prime Minister Statement (11 May) – NIPSA the largest trade union in Northern Ireland issues the following statement following the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday evening. NIPSA’s General Secretary commented: “It is regrettable that the Prime Minister has confused the public with the UK new messaging of Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives. The message is mixed stay at home if you can but go to work. This virus has killed over 30,000 across the UK and over 500 in Northern Ireland. Now is not the time to send out confusing messages. It is clear the NI Executive, the Welsh and Scottish Governments are clearly staying the message should remain Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. NIPSA will be working with all public sector employers to ensure that staff are kept safe, and the primary message must remain if you can work from home. If you can’t work from home then strong social distancing measures must be in place. NIPSA is engaged across all areas of the public sector on a daily basis to ensure our members are kept safe and no-one is forced to attend work were proper social distancing and other measures are not in place read more
Update on NJC Pay (7 May) – NIPSA has secured urgent agreement to pay the NJC increments which were due on 1st April and as previously advised will be paid in salaries (for staff on the M1 payroll) at end of May and arrears in June read more
District Council Staffing Update (7 May) – I am sure many of you have been following the distressing news in relation to Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s proposal to make redundant 73 staff from Agency, Temporary and Permanent employees with less than 1 year service and considering the potential impact on your situation. The council stated that with public venue closures impacting revenue, they were facing an unprecedented financial challenge…NIPSA along with Trade Union Side colleagues challenged this decision vigorously and in particular the failure to follow Local Government Association Guidance and lack of notice given for consultation, which was just two days and did not conform to the 30 days’ notice required by law…The Council responded stating they would postpone the dismissal of 46 contracted staff while they explored the possibility of funding from the Government Job Retention Scheme and had reached a furlough agreement for 27 Agency Worker. Whilst welcoming the postponement of redundancies, NIPSA and TUS colleagues will continue to oppose the threat of redundancies and seek to meet with all parties involved including requesting to meet with the Minister for the Department of Communities to explore all options available for Councils at this time read more read more
Judicial Review to force UK Government to extend health and safety rights to “gig economy” workers (12 May) – The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is taking legal action against the government to secure health and safety protections for hundreds of thousands of ‘gig economy’ workers. The union has sent a pre-action protocol letter and will argue, as part of its judicial review, that the UK Government has failed in its obligation to transpose health and safety directives from EU law into UK law. Whereas UK health and safety law only protects employees, EU law extends these protections, which include the right to adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to all those classified as workers. Losing the review would force the Government to extend health and safety protections to all ‘workers’, including hundreds of thousands in the so-called “gig economy”, such as Uber and Addison Lee drivers, Pimlico plumber workers, and medical and parcel couriers. 1 in 10 adults engage in gig economy work, which accounts for at least 4.7 million people working in the UK with little to no health and safety protections read more
IWGB and Uber drivers suing UK government over its failure to protect millions of precarious workers (8 May) – The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and two Uber drivers have filed a legal challenge against the UK government with the High Court over its failure to provide satisfactory income and sickness protection to millions of low-paid and self-employed workers (1) during the Covid-19 pandemic. The claimants will argue that this failure constitutes discrimination against self-employed limb (b) workers (2), BAME workers and women. The income protection provided by the government’s proposed Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is significantly worse than that provided to employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, constituting discrimination against self-employed limb (b) workers, many of whom work in the “gig economy” read more
Covid-19 couriers to vote on strike action over redundancies and health concerns (7 May) – Medical couriers transporting Covid-19 samples on behalf of NHS pathology contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) are to vote on strike action, in response to the company’s decision to make redundancies during the pandemic, and its failure to address health and safety concerns. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) last night issued a notice of strike ballot to TDL. This follows the company’s announcement on 1 May that it would start a 30-day consultation with a view to make ten bicycle couriers and “walkers” redundant read more
Sean McGovern – The NSSN would like to send our solidarity and condolences to Sean’s family after his tragic passing away last week. Sean was a friend and comrade and spoke at our TUC Rally in 2017. We salute his life. Below is a tribute from Sean’s union general secretary Len McCluskey from the Unite website, which we are delighted to publish
Statement from Len McCluskey on the death of Sean McGovern (7 May) –
It is once again my duty to write with the saddest of news, and advise that Executive Council member Sean McGovern passed away yesterday.
Sean represented disabled workers on our EC – indeed, no-one else has ever done so in Unite’s history. He was a tireless champion for disabled people, and he ensured that their particular interests were never overlooked in any of our debates. He was always well-briefed, and everyone from government ministers down knew from experience how persistent he could be in championing the rights of disabled workers.
Sean also represented Unite on the General Council of the TUC, and chaired the TUC’s disability committee. He was formerly chair of our own National Disabled Members Committee, was active in his region, London & Eastern, and was Disability Officer for the London Labour Party. He poured all his energies into building our union and the movement, and we will cherish the memories of his comradeship and commitment.
As with others we have lost, we will mark Sean’s passing properly when it is possible to do so – however, the greatest memorial to his life and work must be to pick up and carry forward the cause of the rights of disabled workers which he championed to the last.
Blacklisting and union victimisation
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
Canada: Cargill broke OHS rules and locked worker reps out of COVID-19 investigation read more
July 4 – NSSN Conference 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL
September 13 – NSSN TUC Rally Brighton 1pm
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