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UK: Coronavirus – Remembering all the workers who’ve died after exposure to Covid-19 at work | TUC

28 Apr 2020

Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day, when trade unions around the world remember workers who lost their lives and commit to keep the living safe.

This is the story of Peter, Mary, Cheryl, Zeeshan and Emeka – five UK workers who were taken by Covid-19.

Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day, when trade unions around the world remember workers who lost their lives and commit to keep the living safe.

This year we especially remember the frontline workers who lost their lives to Covid-19 while looking after our loved ones and keeping our country running.

We will be forever in debt to the workers who have died during this pandemic – our nurses, doctors, care staff and other essential workers.

Remember the dead, fight for the living.

https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/coronavirus-remembering-all-workers-whove-died-after-exposure-covid-19-work

UK: Preparing for the return to work outside the home – TUC

Preparing for the return to work outside the home

Summary of recommendations

This TUC report, Preparing for the return to work outside the home: a trade union approach, sets out what we believe the government must do now to ensure a safe transition from lockdown, looking at how to safely return to work outside the home, the enforcement measures needed to protect workers, and how best to protect workers’ livelihoods.

  • The government must ensure that workers’ mental health and wellbeing is prioritised alongside physical safety.
  • The government must run a public information campaign to ensure working people can be confident that health and safety at work is a priority as they return to work.
  • Every employer must carry out a specific Covid-19 risk assessment.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be provided where necessary, and no-one should be asked to re-use PPE inappropriately.
  • Government must provide specific advice and protection for those groups most at risk.
  • The EHRC must ensure that the return to work strategy seeks to prevent this disproportionate impact and complies with the public sector equality duty.
  • Unions should be consulted when the government prepares sector-specific guidance, and when employers seek to implement it.
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) must act quickly to sanction employers that do not risk-assess for Covid-19 or fail to provide safe working arrangements.
  • The HSE must run a public information campaign to ensure workers know their rights.
  • No worker should face a sanction for refusing to work in an unsafe workplace.
  • Government must ensure the job retention scheme continues to protect jobs.
  • Those who lose their jobs must be protected by a strengthened safety net.
  • We need decent sick pay for all
  • Government must ban zero-hours contracts, tackle false self-employment, and guarantee all workers day-one employment rights.

    read full list of recommendations

Download full report (pdf)

https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/preparing-return-work-outside-home-trade-union-approach

28 April: United Kingdom: Workers’ Memorial Day | TUC

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers.

Each year on April 28th, all around the world the trade union movement unites to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (#IWMD20). We remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.

Theme for 2020: Coronavirus

This year we are all working in unique circumstances, as the coronavirus pandemic affects every worker regardless of sector or locality. Hundreds have lost their lives to the virus while working on the frontline, acting to protect the public and to keep society running. Workers are risking their lives every day, while many are still attending work ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place. We could not have a starker reminder of the important role of trade union health and safety reps in saving and protecting workers’ lives.

We remember those we have lost. We organise in their memory.

While we may not be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place on IWMD, as public gatherings around the world are not advised or allowed; there are many ways trade union members can take part in our collective day of remembrance and solidarity.

How you can take part…

Light a candle

Join others across the world by lighting a candle on the evening of Tuesday 28th April. It may be for a loved one, a worker, a group of workers or for all those who have lost their lives from work. Take a photo of your candle, and with a caption about who you’re remembering, post it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #IWMD20.

Register for our video call

The TUC Education team will be hosting a video call at 2pm on the day, where you will be able to hear from speakers and submit questions and contributions in advance. Put the time in your diary and registration will be available via soon.

Coming Soon – downloadable #IWMD posters, social media graphics and video. 

https://www.tuc.org.uk/workers-memorial-day

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: What are you planning for Workers’ Memorial Day?

The TUC is going to start listing events for the 28 April 2018 Workers’ Memorial Day. The theme is “Unionised workplaces are safer workplaces.” The national union body is urging organisation to send details of all local, regional or national events to be included on the online listing. According to the TUC: “As Workers’ Memorial Day is on a Saturday this year it may be that some workplaces will aim to have the two-minutes’ silence or other event on Friday 27 April. However other events should still be scheduled for 28 April.”
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of events to the TUC health and safety officeRisks 83320 January 2018

Get ready for International Workers’ Memorial Day 2017

This year’s International Workers Memorial Day will focus on inequalities in occupational health and the role unions play in narrowing the inequalities gap.

The TUC says this theme for the world’s largest health and safety campaign, held on 28 April each year, will allow unions to raise discrimination based on gender, race, origins and class, which have all been linked to higher rates of occupational disease and injury.

It also allows unions to emphasis the unacceptable risks facing workers in the ‘gig’ economy, where the combination of poor conditions and job fear can amplify risks.

International Workers’ Memorial Day – TUC and ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages. The main twitter hashtag will be #iwmd17