Defend Workers’ Rights

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Liz Truss has been urged to “come clean” over her plans to attack workers’ rights.

Earlier this week, The Times reported that Truss was considering a review of workers’ protections.

Among the protections to be reviewed by the Truss will be the laws covering the 48-hour working week, adopted as part of the EU working time directive. The strike ballot support threshold may also be raised to 50% of all eligible voters and the strike notice may be extended from two to four weeks.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said Ms. Truss should “come clean” about any such plans.

“Liz Truss’s number one priority should be to help families pay their bills this winter,” Ms. O’Grady said.

“Threatening hard-won workers’ rights is the last thing the country and working people need.”

Petros Elia, general secretary for United Voices of the World, said:

“These measures are designed to try to shut us up and shut us down. But we won’t be intimidated. Britain already has the most stringent anti-union laws in Europe and here workers’ rights are regularly violated according to The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global ranking. We will resist and defeat these attempts to shackle us and turn this country into a worker’s gulag. We urge every single worker out there who is not yet unionised to join us so we can fight as one and win.”

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented:

Unions exist to defend the rights of workers. Attacks on these rights will be defeated by the union movement and our small union will play its part.”

PRO-BREXIT FIRE UNION OFFICIAL UNFAIRLY SACKED

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Pro-Breixt fire union official unfairly sacked, tribunal finds

Paul Embery has won a claim for unfair dismissal against the Fire Brigades Union – FBU.

He was sacked in relation to a speech he gave in a personal capacity (not as an FBU representative) and in his own private time to a pro-Brexit rally outside parliament in 2019.
Norwich Employment Tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed after a “witch hunt” with a pre-determined outcome.

The tribunal heard there had been regular disagreements between Mr. Embery and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack over the issue of Brexit. Mr. Embery was warned of reprisals and at one point accused of siding with the ‘far right‘.

The conflict appeared to come to a head as Mr. Embery planned to attend the Leave Means Leave rally in Parliament Square.

Before the rally, the tribunal heard Mr. Embery was told by FBU President Ian Murray that he should not attend as a speaker and that to do so could breach the union’s policy against Brexit, which passed in 2016.

Mr. Murray was also said to have suggested it could contravene a statement prohibiting FBU officials from campaigning with political opponents during the referendum campaign.

Mr. Embery believed Mr. Murray was wrong, and that the policy had lapsed once the referendum was held, the tribunal was told.

The activist was introduced at the rally as an organiser of Trade Unions Against the European Union and used a speech to describe a battle to defend the principle of democracy, after a majority voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

Mr. Embery said in the speech that the “message to the leaders of my movement is, if you want to stay relevant, then it’s about time you put yourself on the side of the people over the establishment and big business, and you better do that damn quickly“.

This is a great victory – on a personal level – for Paul Embery. It’s also a great victory for democracy and the right of ordinary workers & trade unionists to openly speak their minds. Whatever union policy is members and officials should be able to publicly disagree as long as they make it clear that it is their personal view and that they are not speaking on behalf of the union.

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.”