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Risks is the TUC's weekly newsletter for safety reps and others, sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.




Government must protect the self-employed, says TUC

The TUC has called on the government to provide urgent aid to Britain’s five million self-employed workers. A report from the union body published on 23 March warns the current measures in place for self-employed workers are “inadequate” with many facing severe hardship over the coming months. The report calls on ministers to extend the wage subsidy scheme announced on 20 March to the self-employed. The TUC said this could be done through providing the self-employed with a guarantee of at least 80 per cent of their incomes based on their last three years of self-assessment tax returns. It says this could be paid directly to the self-employed as a tax rebate. The call was repeated by a succession of unions representing gig workers, musicians, actors, journalists and others in insecure employment. The TUC report highlights the example of Norway where the government is providing grants covering 80 per cent of self-employed workers’ earnings. In Belgium an income replacement scheme has been set up for the self-employed. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government took a big and important step last week with wage subsidies for employed workers. But millions of self-employed workers – from the creative industries to construction - are still facing a collapse in their earnings. Many won’t be able to meet their basic living costs without further support. Ministers must urgently beef up support for the self-employed.” She added: “Large-scale wage subsidies are the best way to boost household finances, keep businesses running and help our economy bounce back after this crisis. All workers – both employed and self-employed - should have their wages protected.” On 23 March, the prime minister announced people may only leave home to exercise once a day, should travel to and from work only when it is “absolutely necessary”, and should shop for just essential items and to fulfil any medical or care needs.
TUC news release. Fixing the safety net: What next on supporting working people’s incomes?, TUC, 23 March 2020. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 20 March 2020 announcement, business support news release and TUC commentary. Updated government guidance for employees.
GMB news release. Usdaw news release. Aslef news release. Prospect news release. NUJ news release. Musicians’ Union news release. Community news release. BECTU news release. Unite news release.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 and related government news release. BBC News Online. Prime minister’s 23 October speech announcing the lockdown and related BBC News Online story.  Morning Star.

Confused messages jeopardise virus response

Unite has appealed to the prime minister to act swiftly to clear up the confusion about who can be at work and how insecure and self-employed workers will be supported economically. The 24 March union warning noted the lack of clarity and absence of financial support for insecure workers was “at odds with the national emergency” and came after pictures of packed construction sites and Tube trains in the capital were published, as workers continued to head to work. Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, urged the government to work more closely with trade unions in order to get the correct measures in place for working people. “The prime minister has asked us all to play our part in the enormous national effort to save lives and beat the Covid-19 virus. But the stark reality is that millions of workers are confused about whether or not they can or should be at work,” McCluskey said. “At the same time, the millions of self-employed and insecure workers across the country will dread being sent home because it means that they will have no wage.” The Unite leader added: “Without swift clarity for millions of insecure and uncertain workers about whether they can be at work or not, and without removing the agonising choice between health and hardship, then the positive measures announced by the chancellor last week will be overshadowed and public health efforts will be severely compromised. Confused messages and lack of financial support are at odds with the urgency of this health emergency. Workers need clear direction and protection from government now.”
Unite news release and news release on Unite coronavirus helpline. BBC News Online and related news report. The Guardian and Guardian video.

Government must act on construction ‘health emergency’

Unite has warned that construction workers and their families are facing a ‘public health emergency’ as the government has failed to ensure their safety at work. The union says that alongside urgent contingencies to enforce safety on sites, the government must introduce immediate measures to ensure that the self-employed - which comprises over 50 per cent of the construction industry - are covered by its wage assistance scheme, to the equivalent already announced for employees. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “There is an immediate public health emergency on construction sites, due to a lack of social distancing. Construction workers are currently facing a stark choice arising from negligence. That means they risk their health, or face the prospect of job loss, hardship and hunger.” She added: “By construction workers being compelled to work unprotected and travel, the lack of government safety coordination, is risking their health, the health of their families and the health of the general public.” The Unite assistant general secretary conclude: “The government must announce they will take urgent action to ensure that construction sites will be safe and if not that displaced workers will have their jobs and income protected irrespective of being directly employed or self-employed. Contractors also have a moral duty to ensure that all the workers on their sites are safe and financially protected. No worker should have to make a life or death decision arising from government or contractor negligence.”
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer.

STUC warns employers over safety breaches

The STUC has issued a stark warning to employers after it was inundated with complaints from workers about companies keeping open for non-essential work and pressuring employees to present for work even while business was suspended. The Scottish union body warned employers they could find themselves in “implied breach of contract” and face future constructive dismissal claims “if judged to be endangering workers.” With government advice making clear that only essential work should continue, the burden of proof would be on the employer to prove they had acted reasonably. The STUC said employers have a statutory duty to risk assess for Covid-19, as it is a ‘substance hazardous to health’, and to put in place a safe system of work. STUC general secretary designate Roz Foyer said: “While many employers have acted swiftly and correctly too many have not. This has caused general confusion and real alarm. Union offices across Scotland have been inundated with calls from members. Meanwhile the STUC is fielding questions by the minute from worried workers.” She added: “Our advice to workers is clear, contact your union for support, join a union and in the meantime contact the STUC for advice. Speak to other workers and make a joint demand of the employer to present clear justification of a decision to compel you to work. Contact your health and safety rep if available or otherwise insist on seeing the full risk assessment your employer is obliged to undertake.” The union has also called for a ‘massive step-up’ in coronavirus testing for essential workers. Roz Foyer said: “‘We risk a situation in which infected essential workers without symptoms are working, whilst conversely, others are unnecessarily self-isolating.”
STUC news release and related news release on testing. The Herald.

Usdaw’s new hope for calm in our supermarkets

Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed ‘much needed clarity’ from the government after the announcement of a nationwide lockdown. Paddy Lillis, the retail union’s general secretary, said: “We now have clear instructions and we urge the public to listen and act accordingly.” Commenting on the 23 March announcement by the prime minister, he said: “Our members in supermarkets have had a torrid time over the last few days due to panic buying. Tonight the government has made it absolutely clear that people can only leave home to buy essential items. We hope that brings to an end the misery that shopworkers have endured as this crisis unfolded.” He called for urgent action to protect workers who were being laid off as a result of the outbreak, noting “we are aware of that some employers are laying staff off and asking them to go without pay until the government’s Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme commences, potentially at the end of April. Low paid workers cannot wait this long without pay and we urge the government to act urgently to protect the workforce and for employers to act sympathetically.” He also said more needed to be done to protect workers in stores. “The scenes in stores over the weekend and behaviour of some customers mean that supermarkets need to go further to protect the health, safety and welfare of shop workers,” the retail union leader said. Supermarket chains subsequently introduced additional measures to protect staff and customers. Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Iceland and Morrisons said they are installing ‘cough-proof’ protective screens to shield checkout staff.
Usdaw news release, related news release on protective measures and advice to members. The Mirror. The Guardian.
UNI Commerce global union and Politico on the global response.

Police should make sure only key workers travel

Rail union TSSA has echoed the London mayor’s call for police to be deployed at all main London stations - including Underground, Overground and railway interchanges - to ensure passengers on the city's public transport network are only those providing vital services. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes made the call following reports of busy Tube trains for the second successive day after Boris Johnson’s coronavirus ‘lockdown’. Cortes commented: “Sadly the situation on the London Underground has not improved. We urgently need British Transport Police and other officers at major stations across London’s transport network to ensure only those with a valid reason to travel are doing so in this emergency.” Commenting after the London mayor said police may have to be deployed to ensure only key workers use the system, Cortes said: “I agree with Sadiq Khan that vital services and frontline workers must be protected, the alternative is people will die in greater numbers. That can’t be allowed to happen and only government has the power to enforce what’s needed. TfL and other transport staff need assistance in keeping the capital moving for those who go to work to save lives.” The TSSA leader added: “Ministers must come forward today with a package of measures guaranteeing the income of workers in the gig economy, the self-employed and freelancers. That will go a long way to reducing the numbers who feel they have no choice but to travel to work.”
TSSA news release. MyLondon.

RCM concern over PPE shortage for midwives

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the government to ensure that midwives and maternity support workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they remain safe and well so they can continue to care for people. The union call came as health care workers across the NHS said they were encountering difficulties obtaining the correct masks, aprons, goggles and gloves.  Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, said: “There are midwives, maternity support workers and thousands of other NHS health care professionals working right now without adequate supplies of personal protective equipment. Our members in different parts of the UK have been contacting us with their concerns. Midwives across the country are caring for pregnant women with suspected Covid-19 symptoms without adequate resources to protect themselves.” She added: “There are community midwives attending home births and postnatal visits without enough hand sanitising gel and other basics such as masks. We know these are unprecedented circumstances, but the government has a duty to keep our vital healthcare workers safe and well.” The RCM is also calling on the government for a programme of regular testing for midwives and other NHS healthcare workers to be rolled out without delay. The RCM leader said: “If the NHS is to cope with the daily rising challenges of this pandemic, we need to ensure that healthcare workers, including our members, are kept well for as long as possible – and if they are unwell, that they are taken out of the workforce to prevent further infection. Our members want clarity, which is why we are pushing all the relevant NHS and government bodies to get the right information out in a timely way.”
RCM news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
RESOURCE: RCM guidance for pregnant health care workers.

All education staff should get the test

Teachers’ union NEU has warned that government advice for schools is not currently strong enough. Commenting on the action needed to keep staff and young people safe in the schools and colleges that have remained open, Dr Mary Bousted, the union’s joint general secretary, said: “In less than three weeks, according to our country's current trajectory, we will be in the same situation as Italy. Our priority as a union is to our members and the children and young people they work with. We are concerned that government advice for schools is not currently strong enough.” Commenting on 23 March, she said tackling the outbreak “means testing of all education staff, and that no one at heightened risk attends schools and colleges from today. No staff should attend who are vulnerable or would go home to family who are vulnerable. We also need to see coherent rotas for those who continue to go to their place of work. Virus testing must be available to schools that remain open. With so many parents on the key worker list, this means an extensive effort is required to make sure every school can access the tests. This is no time for half-measures.” Commenting on the risks faced by education staff, the union leader concluded: “As with NHS workers, they are putting themselves at risk. Our ethical responsibility is to them. The NEU will do everything in its power to protect members at this critical time.”
NEU news release and guidance to members.

Fire services lose hundreds to self-isolation

Fire and rescue service personnel must receive priority testing and vaccination for coronavirus, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The union was commenting after some brigades reported losing hundreds of staff to self-isolation. In a 20 March letter to ministers in Westminster and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the FBU has said that without testing, firefighters and control staff could be self-isolating unnecessarily, when they could be on hand to protect the public. The union also said that testing could help reduce the risk of frontline staff transmitting the infection to vulnerable members of the public. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “In this time of national crisis, every emergency service worker has an important role to play. The NHS is an obvious priority, but any testing regime needs to address all key public services. Without proper testing, the number of fire and rescue personnel available could drop to dangerously low levels. Fires and other non-virus related emergency incidents won’t wait for this crisis to subside and ministers need to consider that carefully.” He added: “It is vital for public safety that firefighters and control staff, like their colleagues in the NHS, receive priority testing and, once available, vaccination. We’re pushing for measures to limit our members’ exposure to the virus, but some interaction with the public cannot be avoided and ministers need to manage that risk.”
FBU news release.

‘Petrified’ Amazon workers stuck in packed warehouses

Amazon workers are ‘petrified’ of being infected by Covid-19 after being left to work in packed warehouses, without hand sanitiser or personal protection equipment, the union GMB has said. People at fulfilment centres across the UK report being left in crowds of 200-300 people and having to reuse equipment multiple times with no hand sanitiser available. Workers say water dispensers are used over and over again without being disinfected, dirty canteen tables with used tissues on them, team leaders giving feedback without staying two metres away and no sanitiser or alcohol wipes to clean equipment. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “We are so angry about this - these workers are petrified of catching and spreading Covid-19 and rightly so. Amazon is blatantly disregarding the two metre social distancing rules, there are no masks, no sanitiser and with the vast amount of people working there there’s no way of keeping them from getting ill.” The GMB officer added: “It’s impossible for Amazon workers to keep a safe distance from each other and hit their productivity targets. Amazon has a duty of care - not just to its own workers but to the whole of the British public.”
GMB news release.

Business as usual not good enough for energy sector

Energy sector employers are preparing contingency measures to make sure the lights stay on - but are employers properly balancing the safety of staff with the need to keep energy flowing, the union Prospect has questioned. As the union for engineers and specialists working in the energy industry, Prospect polled its members on the ‘resilience measures’ their employers are putting in place in response to Covid-19. The survey, which garnered more than 1,000 responses from people working across the energy supply industry, showed that fewer than half the respondents (only 48 per cent) were confident in the resilience measures their employers were putting in place. A similar proportion (46 per cent) said their employer was taking adequate steps to reduce physical contact in the workplace. Only 5 per cent said there were plans to halt non-essential capital projects. Many respondents were also unsure about the adequate provision of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) in their workplace, Prospect said. In response to a question on PPE shortages, only 41 per cent said there were currently no shortages, 14 per cent said there were shortages, and 45 per cent said they were unsure. Prospect said: “These findings should be a wakeup call to the energy industry. One indisputable fact is that ‘business as usual’ practices will not get us through this crisis. Employers across the sector – supported by the regulator – must take action to ensure they can keep the lights on, whilst also protecting staff health and limiting the spread of the virus.” It added: “Prospect is calling on all employers to actively engage with us and other unions around contingency planning and to ensure clear and timely communication with staff about the measures being put in place. We must see more concerted efforts to ensure adequate PPE and sanitation supplies across all workplaces. By working together we can get through this crisis – but employers must recognise the gravity of the situation and abandon business as usual.”
Prospect news release and blog.

Railway workers call for public support

Rail industry unions have called on the public to support their efforts to keep a safe rail system in operation to help see the country through the coronavirus crisis. An open letter signed by Mick Whelan of Aslef, Mick Cash of RMT, Manuel Cortes of TSSA and Unite’s Diana Holland notes: “As railway workers, we cannot work at home. But we are pleading with the travelling public, if you can work from home, please do. Because we want to do all we can to make sure that key workers, and essential goods, are transported around the country. And we will do everything we can to help our country fight and beat this pandemic.” Saying rail workers need the help of the public, the letter continues: “Crowded trains are a danger. Not just to you, as an individual, but to the key workers who have to travel on them. We must all do everything in our power to protect these people as they do everything in their power to keep us safe. That’s why we are asking you, before you get on a train, tram, or Tube, ask yourself: do I really need to make this journey? And if the answer is no, please stay at home.” The letter adds that atypical workers, like gig workers and self-employed workers, need to be included in government support packages, so they are not left to make a choice between health and hardship. “That’s why we are calling on the government to do far more to help these workers. No one should be putting themselves, and others, in danger because of the financial risks of not taking a journey. Working together, we will beat coronavirus. That’s why, as railway workers, we ask the public, and the government, to help us to help you.”
RMT news release. Aslef news release.

Failing to stand together could cost you dearly

Workers can protect their income as well as their health if they stand together during the pandemic crisis, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has said. The union body has called on workers to come together and organise to ensure employees, agency workers and freelance staff follow the correct procedure for ‘furloughing’ them during the period ahead, and to maximise their pay during the months ahead. It is advising workers to ask for more than the 80 per cent of pay that is offered by government, praising companies like Timpsons and the hotel Surgeons Quarter in Edinburgh that have agreed to pay the full 100 per cent. It said attempts to lay off staff have been halted by workers taking union action. This ensured furloughing processes were followed and workers were advised that if they were told to sign a new contract “they should not sign, delay, get together in a Whatsapp group, and ask to discuss the details with their employer.” Roz Foyer, STUC general secretary designate, said: “We have heard all too many companies who make profits from workers in the good times, now insisting that they cannot cover a penny of pay when times get tough. Those who are organised in unions are standing together to get what they deserve at this difficult time.” Citing the examples of Cineworld and the G1 group, she added “across the economy, groups of workers who have never been involved in unions are also coming together and joining Unite, GMB, UNISON and other unions to get what is due them. The message is clear: at times like this, bosses must not be dictating but negotiating. To get to that stage, you need to be combining together in a union and putting forward your collective demands.”
STUC news release. The Guardian.

UCU welcomes move to stop face-to-face prison education

UCU has welcomed the move to suspend prison education as part of a wider prison lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) advised the Justice Select Committee this week it was moving to an ‘exceptional delivery model’, and has now confirmed to prison governors and prison education providers that all non-essential activities involving groups of people, including prison education, should be stopped with immediate effect. The education union had called for face-to-face provision to be stopped after members raised concerns about health and safety. A survey of prison education staff highlighted widespread concerns about a lack of basic handwashing facilities, classrooms not being cleaned between lessons and equipment being shared between prisoners and staff. UCU said it would now work with HMPPS and prison education employers to look at other ways to support prisoners’ learning during the crisis. The union also called on employers to provide guarantees to prison education staff that they would continue to be paid. UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We are pleased that the government has listened to the concerns being raised and moved to stop all face-to-face education activity within prisons. The health and safety of staff and prisoners is paramount and it is right that we take every possible step to help stop the spread of this virus within the prison estate.”
UCU news release.

Migrant workers supplying the food industry need respect

The rights of thousands of migrant workers working hard to pick fruit and vegetables to keep the food chain supplied during the coronavirus emergency need to be respected, Unite has said. The union said that migrant employees working in the fields and orchards were designated as ‘key workers’ as they were a vital cog in the food production and supply chains. However, it warns their working conditions “can be open to abuse.” Unite national officer for agriculture Bev Clarkson said: “In the past, there have been cases where migrant workers have been exploited by some employers, but, at this critical junction in the coronavirus emergency, we need to reinforce the message that the rights of migrant workers need to be fully respected.” She added: “There were already shortages of workers in the agriculture and fruit sectors to pick the crops because of the uncertainty created by Brexit, so that’s why migrant workers are a vital cog in the food production and supply chains.” Unite has called for “two measures to support migrant workers to be strictly enforced: Health and safety regulations as there is a high percentage of fatalities in this sector” and “constant monitoring of the salaries that workers are paid as, again, this is a sector where employees can be open to abuse.” Bev Clarkson added: “I am sure that the vast majority of employers will respect the migrant workforce and protect their pay at the proper rates and employment conditions. But today Unite is putting down a strong marker that we won’t tolerate any rogue bosses tempted to make a fast buck during this national emergency.”
Unite news release.

Social care workers must have full protective equipment

Unite has said the social care sector is at breaking point dealing with coronavirus related demands and is warning that workers do not even have basic personal protective equipment (PPE). Social care workers, many of whom Unite said are employed on low wages by private sector companies and who look after some of the frailest and most vulnerable in society, are reporting that employers are unable to supply basic PPE such as gloves, aprons, masks and hand sanitiser. On 22 March the government promised the social care sector would have adequate PPE in a week, said the union, but that was seen as too little too late. It added social care workers, operating in residential centres and in people’s homes, are becoming increasingly concerned that the lack of adequate PPE is placing the health of both staff and clients at risk. Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “The social care sector is the fourth emergency service and it is crucial in helping the most vulnerable in society survive the coronavirus crisis. With workers reporting they are already at breaking point the government has to intervene to ensure that there is joined up thinking and those who need care continue to receive it safely.” He added: “Given the critical role social care workers are playing it is absolutely essential that they are fully protected. Public Health England and the government need to intervene immediately to make sure that essential PPE is supplied to the workers who must have it to do their jobs safely and protect the vulnerable who rely on their services.”
Unite news release.

Norse Medway slammed for ‘dangerous’ approach

Unite has said it is ‘dismayed’ at council services outsourcer Norse Medway’s approach to social distancing for key workers as well as staff who need to self-isolate because of the coronavirus. On 24 March, the union said that Norse – which operates refuse collection, street cleaning, crematoria, gardening and other services for Medway council in Kent – is refusing to put workers who are self-isolating on medical suspensions. Instead of receiving full wages, as usually happens during a medical suspension, Norse Medway staff who are self-isolating have to claim statutory sick pay (SSP) and have been advised by the firm that it is their choice whether to stay home or not. Unite said this contrasts with the treatment of directly-employed council workers in the same position, who are being granted medical suspensions and sent home. The union, which has more than 150 members at Norse Medway, said the firm’s approach is ‘totally uncaring’ and could help spread the virus by encouraging staff who are worried about their income to keep working if they have symptoms. Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: “As well as being totally uncaring, Norse Medway’s approach to self-isolation is dangerous, as it risks encouraging staff who would otherwise self-isolate to carry on working because of the dramatic drop in their incomes.” He added: “This is no way to behave during a time of national crisis. Norse Medway’s management needs to get its house in order and provide medical suspensions to workers who need them immediately. Proper social distancing measures for staff who continue to provide key services must also be implemented, while those in non-essential roles must be furloughed.”
Unite news release.

Stena Line ferries slammed for suspending sick pay

Nautilus has protested 'draconian' steps taken by Stena Line ferries after it suspended its sick pay scheme without consultation with unions. The move, which the firm said was in response to the coronavirus crisis, has compounded a situation in which more than a thousand shore-based staff have been made redundant by the company in the past week, the union said. “This draconian step will impact on those unfortunate employees, who through no fault of their own, are unable to work due to severe illness when they have provided many years of loyal service to Stena Line,” Nautilus national ferry organiser Micky Smyth said. “We have serious concerns that employees who may be sick will return to their vessels, which may have serious medical implications for all those onboard including passengers, drivers and crew.”
Nautilus news release and Coronavirus Resources hub.

Wilko scraps plan to slash sick pay following union campaign

Wilko has scrapped a plan to slash sick pay for tens of thousands of workers after a GMB campaign. The company had planned to cut sick pay entitlement for every member of staff in stores and distribution centres, with no company sick pay after the first occasion of sickness and no sick pay for anyone who had been at the company for less than a year (Risks 938). The union said the company now acknowledges that, in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak, ‘now is not the time’ to slash sick pay for tens of thousands of workers. GMB national officer Gary Carter commented: “At these unprecedented times, we all need to work together to protect businesses, as well as the income and health and safety of workers.” He added: “We welcome Wilko’s announcement they will scrap proposed changes to the sick pay. This is a massive relief to tens of thousands of workers in Wilko stores, the supply chain and head office. We look forward to constructive talks with the company before any future changes are put in place.” The retail giant only narrowly avoided strike action last year over ‘punishing’ changes to their weekend working rota.
GMB news release.


Brazil: Meat giant in ‘brutal’ attack on its workers

JBS, the world's largest meat company, has presented workers in Brazil with a stark choice: risk potentially fatal illness, or risk losing your job. On 23 March, workers from the JBS units in Forquilhinha and Nova Veneza in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina were brutally repressed for protesting the company's decision to keep the production lines running without adequate protection against the spread of the coronavirus. Gisele Adão, leader of the meat workers’ union SINTIACR, reported: “We started a strike because the health authorities have been recommending that there be no crowding of people in closed places… and in the processing plants there are 400 or 500 workers per shift.” On 19 March, the first day of the strike, a labour court agreed to the union's demand to close the plants due to the hazardous conditions. The ordinance was withdrawn on 23 March under pressure from JBS. The company claimed that poultry processing is essential for supplying protein to the Brazilian population, but at least 80 per cent of JBS production in Santa Caterina is for export. When workers at both meat processing plants in Santa Catarina protested on 23 March, they were violently attacked by the civil and military police under JBS command. Tear gas was fired at the workers and Celio Elias, former president and current adviser to the union, was arrested. Gisele Adão commented: “We are struggling to protect our health, the health of our families and the entire community, because it is useless to quarantine some people, when we have to travel crowded in the transport and then we are next to each other working. It seems that the workers of the meat packing plants are nothing to society.” Brazil-based JBS is the world's largest meat processing company. Global food and farming union federation notes that “on its climb to global dominance it has closed plants, fought health and safety regulations and thrived on low wages. Top executives have been found guilty of bribing politicians and safety inspectors to allow the marketing of rotten meat.”
IUF news release and video.

Global: ‘Havoc’ as half of countries placed on lockdown

Over half of all countries surveyed (53 per cent) are containing the spread of the coronavirus with national lockdown measures, the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic survey by the global union confederation ITUC found six out of fifteen G20 countries which are the drivers of the global economy closed non-essential businesses between 17-23 March 2020 - but only 50 per cent of countries are providing free health care. “The financial and humanitarian impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will stay with us for many years to come if governments don’t protect workers, supply chains and small business. As shops close and demand falls in G20 countries which are the engine of the global economy, the impact on global supply chains and the millions of workers who livelihoods depend on them will be felt in the weeks to come,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of ITUC. She added: “G20 leaders in their virtual meeting this week have no excuse to be caught off guard – if workers can see the crisis before them so should world leaders. Only by planning for a humanitarian and economic crisis for the year ahead will we protect people’s lives and livelihoods and stabilise the economy.” The global union leader noted businesses were better protected than their workers. “Despite these necessary changes, more countries (29 per cent) are providing bail out funds for business than providing sick leave or part-time leave, with only 23 per cent of countries providing part-time leave for carers and only 21 per cent of countries providing sick leave for all or some workers. The early responses of many governments have been inadequate and as the situation changes rapidly, they need to step up,” said Burrow. Health workers, transport workers and the retail and service sectors are among those hardest hit by the pandemic due to their risk of exposure as well as a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
ITUC news release and Global Covid-19 survey key findings. ITF news release. IndustriALL news release. ILO blog.
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Covid-19 resource page.



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