Category Archives: 2020 UK

Britain: 10 things you can do now to organise on coronavirus at work | TUC

TUC briefing

  1. Unionise

If you haven’t already, join a union. If you’ve already joined, organise. If that means in isolation, so be it – invite colleagues to a video call or WhatsApp group. Regardless of how big your union is, or whether it’s recognised or not, you should be having union meetings about coronavirus. Whether it’s redundancy, pay or PPE, every single worker has something to negotiate right now.

  1. Audit your contract

Check your contracts and staff handbooks for relevant clauses to clarify your rights and responsibilities. You may have questions around working from home, the sickness management policy, maternity rights and other entitlements, so carry out an audit of yours and your colleagues contracts to see where you stand. Make sure you’re including any agency workers in that as they may have very different terms and conditions.

If you think your employer is breaching your contract, or if they are asking you to go in when it is against government or medical advice, contact your union’s legal teams now.

  1. Demand to be consulted

If your bosses are drawing up policies around the response to coronavirus, make sure they’re speaking to the union. Employers have a legal duty to consult established health and safety reps and committee, and reps have the right to play an active role in risk assessments.

  1. Fight for 100%

Across the country, ‘furloughed’ workers on the government’s Jobs Retention Scheme are going to be faced with the possibility of a 20% cut in pay unless their employer agrees to top up the government’s wage subsidy. Other workers affected by school closures are faced with unpaid parental leave as they take time to care for their kids. This is a huge battle and unions are playing a major role in negotiating in workplaces.
– Watch our webinar on wage subsidy.
– Read our blog What are the rules if you’re temporarily laid off?

  1. Shame bad bosses

Employers cutting pay, laying people off, or opening their workplace without the necessary distancing or hygiene measures need to be called out. For especially hostile bosses, public pressure from the outside can support union organising on the inside. Campaigns like #BoycottWetherspoons ran by BFAWU members or #ShutTheSites by Unite activists can threaten the reputational damage of businesses and force a U-turn.
–  If you have concerns about how your employer is responding to coronavirus, please tell us.

  1. Demand Safety

Bosses need to take seriously the calls for distancing, cleanliness and hygiene. The law is clear on the welfare provisions you should have access to. We need sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing to front-line workers – especially health and social care. More people will die if this call is not met. We need the government to urgently issue scientific advice on PPE to all key workers, direct enforcement agencies to take appropriate action – and to ensure those who flout to law are penalised. Read our blog Bosses who fail to protect their workers must pay the penalty.

If you are working from home, you still need to think about safe working conditions. Repetitive strain injury is a serious workplace hazard, and unions should demand no worker is out of pocket from purchasing equipment to support their posture etc.

  1. Support retired members

Many trade union members already been involved in setting up and supporting mutual aid groups which demonstrate the strength and solidarity of our movement. Many unions have retired members branches, whose members may not be as plugged in to online channels but may well fall into the more vulnerable category. Reach out to branches and ask what kind of work your union members can be doing to bring support to them.

  1. Keep in touch

It’s important to maintain lines of communication both with management and with each other. At a time when many of us are working in isolation, it’s easier for bosses to play divide and rule. Guard against it and keep in touch regularly, reporting any new developments. For your own mental health, too, maintaining a network of colleagues who you can check in with will help bring some familiarity to your day.

  1. Take action

We may not be able to hold protests and rallies at the moment, but workers can still take action. Last Friday saw one union branch walk off the job over safety concerns as bosses refused to close the non-essential workplace. In Ireland nearly 1,000 union members walked off a food production site protesting the lack of safety measures. Whether it be an open letter, petition or downing of tools, your union will be able to advise you on the best way to take, and to escalate, action.

  1. Remember them

As the coronavirus crisis carries on, people are dying. Every day. Many of those around the world losing their lives to this virus are the workers on the front-line in health, education, transport, retail and other sectors.

This month is International Workers’ Memorial Day- marked every year on April 28th. Put the date in your diary and sign up to TUC mailing (sign up in the footer below) to be involved in our online memorial. While we mourn those who have passed, we mobilise to ensure not another life is lost to work.

Protecting workers’ safety in the coronavirus pandemic, TUC report, 3 April 2020.

Shelly Asquith
TUC health and safety policy officer

Britain: Employers must keep workers safe or get shut down, says TUC

  • UK union federation TUC calls for government to publish tough new rules about safety for businesses that are staying open – and to close them down if they won’t comply.
  • Workers who fear for their safety shouldn’t face punishment or dismissal, says union body.
  • Firms should agree risk assessments with union health and safety reps.

More

‘Fighting for hearts and minds’ – UK Hazards Campaign 28 April briefing

The UK safety campaign group the Hazards Campaign has issued the following 28 April briefing which includes some valuable resources and information for safety reps, campaigners and organisers of International Workers’ Memorial Day activities:

International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2020: ‘Fighting for hearts and minds’

Let’s make this the biggest and best yet, get planning and organising now! Tell everyone about it – our day to Remember the dead (how and why they died) and to Fight for the Living – demand the action that will stop preventable work deaths

Please circulate the theme to relevant networks in your union, officers, reps and activists, local councillors or your MP.

Use #IWMD20 in all social media communication for global solidarity

The global union confederation, ITUC, has announced the theme for 28 April 2020: ‘Tackling psychosocial hazards at work – taking the stress out of the job’.

In UK we are using Fighting for hearts and minds

This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day activities will highlight the harm caused by occupational stress and related conditions, including depression, anxiety, burnout, work-related alcohol and drug misuse and work-related suicides. The world’s largest health and safety event will draw together campaign targets including the harm resulting from low pay, high workloads an unacceptable working hours and work patterns. It will also highlight the real-life pressures that lead to work stress, including inadequate staffing, job insecurity, downsizing and precarious work. Bad management practices that contribute to the explosion in work-related psychosocial problems will also be highlighted, including punitive sickness absence policies and disciplinary procedures, oppressive performance management, targets and appraisal systems and a lack of control at work.

THEME in UK

Unions fighting for hearts and minds

RESOURCES – Please order resources early

Hazards Campaign resources ribbons, stickers, posters here :   http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/hazards-campaign-28-april-2020-resources-order-form

Hazards Magazine is designing a brilliant new poster to capture the theme – preview soon…

New resources and updates on the ‘union fight for hearts and minds’ will be made available on the dedicated ITUC/Hazards 28 April website. The dedicated ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2020 International Workers’ Memorial Day website will be updated soon. http://28april.org/

Briefing and more info ASAP.

EVENTS- tell the TUC !

Events are  being organised and advertised across UK – tell the details :  info@gmhazards.org.uk and TUC at: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk and see TUC Workers’ Memorial Day pages. https://www.tuc.org.uk/WMD

MAPPING #IWMD20  – Tell us what you are doing info@hazardscampaign.org.uk

Please tell Hazards Campaign what you are doing to we can publicise and make a MAP!

With help from our friends in Scottish Hazards we hope to follow their and the Hazards Magazine ITUC idea of mapping events and deaths, so let us know the details of your event/activity

If you need ideas and support e-mail us.

Some TUC Resources for reps, activists and campaigners and more will be produced- watch out for Hazards Magazine #IWMD20 issue

See www.hazards.org for past posters and graphics  and heartbroken poster in last Hazards magazine – get it on noticeboard to advertise #IWMD20 http://www.hazards.org/gallery/heartbroken.htm

TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. https://www.tuc.org.uk/resource/responding-harmful-work-related-stress

Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/tacking%20workplace%20stress%20without%20edits.pdf

TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. https://www.unionlearn.org.uk/publications/mental-health-and-workplace

TUC mental health awareness training. https://www.tuceducation.org.uk/findacourse/courses/52

TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide. https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-guidance/health-safety-and-wellbeing

Hazards magazine stress and mental health webpages http://www.hazards.org/stress/ and work-related suicide http://www.hazards.org/suicide/ webpages.

Hazards magazine’s ‘heartbroken’ poster (left) can be used on a workplace union noticeboard. http://www.hazards.org/gallery/heartbroken.htm

HSE ‘reporting a concern’  https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/reporting-concern.htm

HSE advice on How to report a work related stress concern, https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

HSE ‘Tackling Stress Workbook’ that can be downloaded for free https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wbk01.htm

HSE stress management standards https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/

Other HSE workplace stress resources https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/resources.htm

Britain: Get resourced up for biggest ever 28 April campaign day!

New resources for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2020, including stickers ribbons and posters, can now be ordered from the national Hazards Campaign. The 28 April 2020 campaign theme will be ‘tackling psychosocial hazards at work – taking the stress out of the job’; tag lines for the union-led event, which has become the world’s biggest health and safety campaign day, include ‘Unions – Fighting for hearts and minds’.

Hazards Campaign blog and 28 April 2020 order resources.
Email the details of your 28 April 2020 plans to the TUC at: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2020 International Workers’ Memorial Day website. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day pages.