Increase statutory Sick Pay

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Our union has long argued that the government must increase self-isolation support to ensure the success of the vaccine rollout but it isn’t just us saying it. Two think tanks, the Nuffield Trust and Resolution Foundation have also recently spoken out.

Researchers warned that boosting compliance with self-isolation rules is critical to resist the threats posed by new variants of coronavirus and rising cases as restrictions continue to ease.The two think tanks proposed a modified version of the Job Retention Scheme that would allow employers to apply for capped grants to cover the lost wages of any employee needing to self-isolate.Self-employed workers should be able to access similar levels of support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the report adds.

The proposal would cost the government £39 million a month if it were to cover 100 percent of wages capped at an equivalent of £2,500 a month, equal to the cap within the current furlough scheme. This cost would be equivalent to roughly 3 percent of the government’s budget for the NHS test-and-trace system. Nuffield Trust senior fellow Sarah Reed said that support for people self-isolating has been a “blind spot” in the government’s response to the pandemic. She warned that there were risks ahead as case numbers were expected to rise with further easing of lockdown restrictions.

Resolution Foundation chief economist Mike Brewer said: “The UK’s failure to financially support workers who need to self-isolate has severely hampered efforts to curb the spread of the virus.”Our union believes that ignoring calls for sick pay at an adequate level risks all the good work in bringing the virus under control. Time for a change.

unionise amazon

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Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is now ranked the world’s richest man. But Amazon stops any attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. It has failed to sign either the United Nations Global Compact or the Ethical Trading Initiative – bodies that recognise the right of all workers to a collective voice and which are signed up to by most of the biggest names on the high street.

In the United States (US) Amazon fought tooth and nail against workers in Bessemer, Alabama, who wanted to form a union. They won that battle and defeated the landmark union drive that would have established the company’s first US union. Amazon, however, has not won the war. That high-profile US fight will increase support for broader change.

Here in the UK Unite, Britain’s leading union has run a major newspaper and digital advertising campaign to alert Amazon workers about a confidential whistle-blowing hotline that has opened in the UK & Ireland.Amazon workers can blow the whistle and expose poor treatment free from reprisals by calling 08000 14 14 61 in the UK or 1800 851 268 for the Republic of Ireland or by visiting https://actiononamazon.org/hotline/.

Unions are demanding a ‘new deal’ for Amazon workers, including a union and a greater share of the firm’s enormous profits. Against a backdrop of reports about poor working conditions, Amazon workers have been essential during the Covid crisis. The company increased its permanent workforce by one-third (10,000) in 2020 as well as taking on 20,000 additional seasonal staff. The company almost doubled its profit in 2020 compared to 2019. Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: “Amazon attacks all attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. This is why Unite is launching ‘Action on Amazon’ to give Amazon workers a voice, so they don’t have to rely on whistle-blowing or calling confidential hotlines.“Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest man off the backs of workers who have played a crucial part in so many people’s lives during the pandemic.

It is prime time Amazon gave workers the right to be in a union and to do so without interference, bullying, and intimidation.”Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union said: “Amazon is part of the life of many people and provides consumers with good service. The story on their workers, however, is not so positive. Amazon needs to stop its union-busting tactics and give its workers respect and a decent share of profits. If they don’t they will lose public goodwill and may face consumer boycotts along with other opposition. Time to unionise and change Amazon!”

Please sign the Amazon petition here: https://actiononamazon.org/sign-our-petition/

All workers deserve rights

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The Court of Appeal has ruled that Deliveroo drivers cannot have collective bargaining rights because they are not workers.

The judgment again highlights the need for one category of worker, “worker” with all enjoying the same rights to paid holidays, sick pay, and collective bargaining (to mention just a few rights).
The Deliveroo case was brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) which represents many Deliveroo drivers. The IWGB had applied for but that was rejected in 2017 on the basis that because riders can pass a job on to a substitute they should not be classed as workers.


After the High Court also ruled in favour of the company, the union appealed, claiming that the denial of collective bargaining breached the couriers’ human rights.


IWGB president Alex Marshall said: “Deliveroo couriers have been working on the front line of the pandemic and, whilst being applauded by the public and even declared heroes by their employer, they have been working under increasingly unfair and unsafe working conditions.
“It appears that when Deliveroo talks about flexibility and being your own boss, it is talking about the flexibility of choosing when to make poverty wages and work in unsafe conditions.”


Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: “Unions will continue to organise within Deliveroo, Amazon, and those others who seek to block them. Increasingly unions are mobilising public opinion behind their campaigns for workers’ rights. We will see in the coming years that companies who fail to give rights to their workers will be penalised by consumer boycotts and political action.”

End in-work poverty

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Poverty doesn’t just affect people out of work. More and more it affects workers. Around one in six working households face living below the official poverty rate, fuelled by rapid house price growth and a lack of affordable childcare, according to a think tank. Britain’s relative poverty rate among working households hit a new high of 17 percent before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in early 2020, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said.

For increasing numbers of people, work is a route into poverty, not a way out. Even two-earner families where one partner works full time and one works part-time are being pulled into poverty, according to the findings. For people in this group, the chances of being pulled into poverty have doubled over the past two decades, from one in 20 to one in ten, the IPPR said. Even for households with two people in full-time work, the chances of being pulled into poverty has more than doubled over the same period, from 1.4 percent to 3.9 percent.

Working poverty rates are particularly high in London, Wales, and the North of England, according to the IPPR. Spiraling housing costs, low wages, a failing benefits system and a lack of affordable childcare sit behind the growth in poverty, the No Longer ‘Managing’ report found. Far from people living easily on benefits, billions are siphoned off into the pockets of landlords. The IPPR estimates £11.1 billion of housing support spending went to private landlords last year.

The report called for higher state subsidies for children under five and wraparound care for school pupils. Clare McNeil, IPPR associate director and head of its future welfare state programme, said: “These shocking new figures should be a wake-up call for everyone concerned about our future.“We need an alternative to what the government calls ‘leveling up’.“Short-term fixes are needed to alleviate the immediate crisis, but to solve the underlying problem we need a far deeper rethink of housing, childcare, social security, and work.”

Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: “We need structural changes in our society that distribute wealth, risk and opportunity more fairly. This is the way we will ultimately lift our people out of poverty”.