Tag Archives: Uk

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

UK: ‘Lean on me’ – Families Against Corporate Killers 28 April [Video]

UK  campaigning network work Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has produced a moving and forceful 28 April video memorial which you can view here.

Also read FACK’s 28 April statement If you do not protect the workforce in a pandemic, you do not protect the public.

UK: Remember Covid-19 dead on 28 April – UNISON

IWMD will give us the chance to remember the workers who have died because of COVID-19

Tuesday 28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day, when we remember all those who have died because of their work – and renew our pledge to fight for the living.

In the year of coronavirus, this day of commemoration has never been more important. And that is why UNISON is asking the country to observe a minute’s silence, to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have already lost their lives to COVID-19.

The campaign for a minute’s silence at 11am next Tuesday was launched earlier this week by UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, which collectively represent more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff.


UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said it would be “the ultimate tribute to remember workers who’ve lost their lives and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and vital services running.

“Every year, the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic.

“Thousands of key staff are on the frontline while the rest of us are in lockdown. That’s why we’ve issued this call for the whole country to take part and remember the sacrifices they’ve made. The best tribute we can all pay them is to stay inside to protect the NHS.”

Thousands of workers across the UK are caring for those suffering from COVID-19 or delivering vital public services that are vital for us all – potentially putting their own safety and even their own lives at risk.

In many cases, these workers know that, by simply doing their jobs, they are putting themselves at risk.

The risks faced by those working in the health and social care sectors has already been acknowledged, but there are also others – those working in childcare, police services and refuse collection, in hostels and rescue centres, in gas, water and electricity, and in transport services among them – whose work and dedication often goes unacknowledged.

Tragically, some of these workers have already died. In some cases, more could have been done to protect them, whether by better enforcement of social distancing, looking after workers with underlying health conditions or provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe.

While improvements have been seen in some areas, more needs to be done – specifically in relation to assessing the risks our members are facing and ensuring that all staff who require it are getting the protective equipment needed to do the job safely.

UNISON has never been afraid to demand the highest standards for workers; we have not been afraid to speak out and hold the government to account on providing the right PPE when staff need it, and to hold employers to account who are not doing enough to keep their workers safe.

All of this adds to the importance of observing a minutes’ silence at 11am next Tuesday.

But other things that you can do include:

  • tweeting us, @unisontheunion, your pictures of public service workers, whether of yourself, your colleagues or even those you may not personally know, continuing to do the jobs that are keeping us all safe – although don’t go out especially to get these;
  • if you are having a problem getting the PPE you need to keep you safe, let us know here;
  • email any other COVID-19 safety related issues to healthandsafety@unison.co.uk.

Coronavirus: what you need to know

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2020/04/remember-covid-19-dead-international-workers-memorial-day/

UK: Unions are vital for future workplace safety | Prospect

“We will never forget 2020. Not just for the way the virus turned our lives upside down and taken many people away from us too soon. We will also remember it for re-calibrating our perception of what is important and who our key workers are.

“This is the year when people from different walks of life put their lives on the line to keep vital services running. Too many of them have lost their lives, and we will remember them on International Workers’ Memorial Day.

“Every year on 28 April, millions of trade unionists across the world come together to remember those who have died at work and fight for the rights of the living.

“This year will be particularly poignant. Wherever we are working, with a minute’s silence at 11am, we will commemorate the workers who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and show our solidarity with those who continue to do vital work at great risk.

“Many Prospect members are working under the cloud of the virus, keeping the lights on, ensuring we are safe and running our public services. As a union, we send our thoughts to all members working at this difficult time.

Learning lessons

“28 April is not a day to point a finger at those who should have done more to protect those at risk, or to ask why our country has been caught unprepared for the pandemic. But those questions will be asked, and we must learn the lessons from this crisis. We must ensure there will not be the loss of life like this again.

“International Workers’ Memorial Day reminds us of the vital role of union health and safety representatives.

“Up and down the country, dedicated trade unionists continue to use their professional expertise to keep their workplaces and colleagues safe. This will only become more important in the weeks and months ahead as we emerge from the crisis and return to something that resembles normal.

“For many, returning to the workplace will be a considerable source of anxiety. It will be hard to roll back the mind-set we have formed to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our communities safe.

“That is why we will always follow the best scientific advice. We will draw on this as we represent members, and apply its rigour in ensuring that risks are managed.

“We know that, as the lockdown is lifted, social distancing will need to be retained. Many work tasks will need to be changed to ensure they can be carried out safely.

“In doing so, there is much that can be learnt from our members who have continued to go into work during this crisis. But this can only happen following constructive engagement between employers and unions. We have already made the case directly to government to ensure the economy can recover when work resumes.

“We expect the same seat at the table to negotiate a safe return to work with all the employers we deal with. We want to extend this hand of partnership into other areas where Prospect members are working, but maybe not currently recognised.

Engaging in good faith

“A return to work after this unprecedented lockdown will require great skill and reassurance. More than ever, it will be vital that employers are honest and transparent in their plans, and engage with the union in good faith.

“New work routines will be required and the same innovation shown during the lockdown will be needed as offices reopen. The workplace may never look quite the same as it did before.

However it changes, and whatever challenges it throws up, we will provide the pragmatic, sensible advice and representation needed based on our years of experience as the leading health and safety union.

“We should remember, too, that many members will return to the workplace having experienced the loss of loved ones, be that family, friends or colleagues. Employers will need to have appropriate support in place to help them through the difficult times, and we will work with them to do that.

“There has never been a more important time for employers to recognise the valuable knowledge of its workforce. This will needed as never before if we are to beat this terrible virus.”

Mike Clancy is Prospect general secretary.

https://prospect.org.uk/news/iwmd20-unions-are-vital-for-future-workplace-safety/

UK: Coronavirus minute’s silence to honour workers

A minute’s silence will be held across the United Kingdom on 28 April to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

The campaign, launched by the 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 #iwmd20 – 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.

The three unions are hoping the government and other organisations will get on board and join the campaign for there to be a minute’s silence on the day, which every year commemorates workers who have died around the globe.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is the ultimate tribute to remember workers who’ve lost their lives and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and vital services running. Every year the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic.

“Thousands of key staff are on the frontline while the rest of us are in lockdown. That’s why we’ve issued this call for the whole country to take part and remember the sacrifices they’ve made. The best tribute we can all pay them is to stay inside to protect the NHS.

“The minute’s silence is a thank you to all the workers including nurses, midwives, cleaners and care staff who’ve died from this devastating virus.”

Royal College of Nursing general secretary and chief executive Donna Kinnair said: “We’ve become used to hearing a great roar on a Thursday night for key workers, but this respectful silence will be a poignant reminder of the risks they run to keep us safe. I hope the public gets behind this with the same affection they show when applauding our people.

“The silence is a simple show of respect for those who have paid the very highest price, but their loved ones must know the levels of gratitude we feel as a nation and take some comfort from that.”

Royal College of Midwives chief executive and general secretary Gill Walton said: “We had expected 2020 to be a celebration of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife but, although we actively applaud their service, this is not what we had imagined. Instead, across the country, midwives and maternity support workers are seeing the impact of coronavirus not only on the women in their care, but on their colleagues as well.

“We are proud to join UNISON and the RCN in this campaign and to recognise and remember those who we have lost.”

The minute’s silence will be held at 11am on Tuesday 28 April. The campaign hashtag for the minute’s silence is #neverforgotten.

UNISON news release.

UK: Organising through the coronavirus crisis – TUC

Here are the UK national union confederation TUC’s top organising tips. The TUC says “whether it’s saving workers’ jobs or protecting their health and safety, it’s essential we organise. Social distancing measures just mean we need to do it a little differently.”

Read the full article here.

 

Britain: RMT ‘stop work’ call to unprotected workers

UK transport union RMT has advised tens of thousands of workers in the rail and bus sector to stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from Covid-19. It says the union’s message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers.

The RMT advice says rail and bus workers should stop work and invoke the “safe work procedure if employers do not follow key protection measures” including only conducting activities related to essential services, avoiding group and close promixity work and maintaining two metre separation of workers. Where this isn’t possible on essential jobs “then personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye defenders and masks [are] to be utilised by all workers in close proximity to provide mutual assurance and the time spent within two metres must be minimised and only for the purpose of the task. If full appropriate PPE is not available then work should not commence.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said “we have issued advice to our members in the rail and bus sectors that they should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from Covid-19. That means that if they are not provided with PPE, including masks, eye defenders and gloves where necessary they should not be working.” He added: “Our members are increasingly concerned that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against Covid-19.”

Citing the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the union advice notes: “Employees are protected by law if they decide that their work situation represents a threat of ‘serious or imminent danger’ and as a result of this belief they remove themselves to a place of safety. Protection is also given to trade union appointed health and safety representatives. RMT believes the current coronavirus–Covid-19 pandemic represents a real threat to life that can be deemed as ‘serious and imminent’.”

RMT news release and advice for rail and bus members.

UK: Hazards Campaign call to action

As normal public events for 28 April won’t be possible because of measures to contain coronavirus/Covid-19, the UK’s national Hazards Campaign has published its own 10-point plan for mostly virtual action. The national campaign says marking International Workers’ Memorial Day has never been more important.

“Some workplace events may still go ahead but we are taking #iwmd20 online, developing a social media campaign that we want everyone to join in,” The campaign says. “This will keep the day and its perennial aims on the public and political agenda with the slogan to ‘Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living’.

This year’s international theme has been changed by the global union confederation ITUC to ‘Stop the pandemic at work’.” The campaign’s 10-point plan includes displaying a series of print-off-or-order posters and other graphics in your window, posting selfies with the hashtag #iwmd20 and telling the campaign what you are doing and where.

The Hazards Campaign poster message is: “Whether the threat at work is another new virus, dangerous substances or heartbreaking demands, your life should not be on the line. Unions can make it better.” Tag lines for the union-led event, which has become the world’s biggest health and safety campaign day, include ‘Unions – Fighting for your life’.

The campaign is also supporting the ITUC’s call for people to light a candle (safely) in their window on the evening of 28 April.

Hazards Campaign 28 April call to action. Campaign materials can be downloaded for free, printed off, used online and in social media campaigns, as can a series of Hazards Campaign display boards.
TUC 28 April 2020 news and resources webpage.
Global action and resources: ITUC/Hazards 28 April website.

 

UK: Coronavirus protest to mourn preventable construction deaths


11am Sunday morning, 12 April, flowers are laid to mourn construction workers who will lose their lives unnecessarily during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The respectful ceremony took place at the ‘Building Worker’ bronze statue at Tower Hill, which was commissioned as a memorial for all those who have died on building sites by the construction union UCATT (now a part of UNITE). The symbolic event was to mourn the dead, but also the fight for the living, and was carried out as part of the mass #ShutTheSites movement that has been trending on social media for the past 2 weeks, calling for non-essential building sites to be closed.

Video link: https://youtu.be/5zuNNCEijFo

A new Shut The Sites FaceBook page was launched on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/ShutTheSites/

Shut The Sites issued the following statement:

“The Bronze Building Worker statue has for many years been a memorial for workers who have died on construction sites. Flowers have been respectfully laid today to mourn the dead. But in this time of crisis we should also fight to protect the living. None of us want to be here in 6 months time laying a bigger wreath to thousands of construction workers and their family members who may lose their lives unnecessarily.

If construction workers are building a Nightingale Hospital or carrying out emergency maintenance on vital infrastructure, that’s clearly crucial to fight this pandemic. But hundreds of thousands of building workers are being forced to continue working on building sites by greedy developers and employers in order to build luxury flats, hotels and powers stations that will not be completed for at least another 5 years. None of these are essential.

Construction workers often travel on packed public transport or in shared minibuses, eat together in site canteens, live in huge site accommodation blocks and generally work in close proximity. No building worker in the country believes that construction can continue in any meaningful manner while complying with the 2m social distancing rules. Major contractors also have an appalling track record on health and safety; over decades they have sacked and blacklisted those prepared to stand up for the safety of their fellow workers. By keeping non-essential building sites open, the government and businesses are prioritizing profit above public health.

No construction worker wants to put their families lives at risk or add more burden to the NHS. The UK government should immediately close all non-essential building sites. But they also need to ensure that every single worker, whether an employee, self-employed or an agency worker, is paid straight away. We need to protect our families, but we also need to put food on the table.

Rather than forcing construction workers to choose whether to protect their families or pay their bills, the government should suspend all mortgage, rent, interest payments and penalty clauses for the next 3 months (as has already been done in Italy) and pay everyone a universal basic income (as has occurred in Hong Kong and is being proposed by the Spanish government)”.

#ShutTheSites
#PAYEveryworker
#StayHomeSaveLives

The memorial protest comes at the same time as the government issued new advice that 2m social distancing will no longer need to be strictly applied in the construction industry, but instead recommends that workers are kept two metres apart “as much as possible”. This is in stark contrast to guidance from the Scottish Government, which has ordered the closure of all non-essential construction.

Construction workers have been voicing their opposition to keeping non-essential building sites open on social media and a number of videos from across the UK have been collated and now appear on the attached .

For press interviews contact: ShutTheSites@gmail.com

Note:

A full risk assessment was carried out before the protest which identified potential hazards and control measures were implemented to remove the risk

  • Only 2 workers involved to comply with government guidelines (many more wanted to attend)
  • Event coincided with a trip to buy food
  • 2m social distancing at all times
  • Participants arrived by private transport rather than the packed tube
  • PPE worn

The protest with two construction workers could be deemed unlawful. The irony being that thousands of construction workers, often lacking PPE, packed onto building sites across the UK is being actively encouraged by the government.

UK: Work-related coronavirus cases must be reported

Dangerous occurrences and cases of actual ill-health related to coronavirus exposures have now to be reported, the UK regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said.

The enforcement agency said the new legal reporting requirement under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) applies “when an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.”

Employers must also make a report when “a worker has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.”

An update to the HSE reporting webpages advises employers: “If something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of coronavirus you must report this as a dangerous occurrence. An example of a dangerous occurrence would be a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus, leading to people being exposed.

HSE adds: “If there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with Covid-19 was likely exposed because of their work you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report. An example of a work-related exposure to coronavirus would be a health care professional who is diagnosed with Covid-19 after treating patients with Covid-19.”

 

Incidents can be reported to HSE online.

HSE news release.