Many workers, especially those on precarious contracts, are understandably worried right now about their financial security. While there are many different situations unfolding, the best response is always to organise with your colleagues and work to find a solution collectively. The government has introduced a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that offers to support employers by paying 80% of wages (currently set to run from March 1st for 3 months). This won’t stop many employers bailing on supporting their workers and working to give them what they deserve. The only way to ensure this support reaches you is to organise and demand. For other kinds of financial support see: Advice
Speak to fellow workers
Speak to as many people you work with possible (or in instances where you have been let go, as many of your former colleagues as possible). In many workplaces, face to face meeting may no longer be viable. We suggest you pull as many work colleagues as possible into a shared Whatsapp/Messenger group. Here you can begin to understand the situation of your colleagues, as well as providing an opportunity to check in on others to see how they are coping at this time. Get in touch if you would like organisers from BetterThanZero to be a part of these groups to help support you through the next stages.
Understand your workplaces’ response
Once in a group, it is important to understand any information that has been provided to workmates. Here you can begin to understand the conditions being offered to workers. Is everyone in the same situation? Are only some members having their hours cut? Are some being offered guarantees or sick pay that others aren’t? Once this has been established it will be far easier to know what to demand going forward.
Formulate a list of demands for your workplace
Once the conditions of all your fellow workers have been established you can begin to formulate a list of demands for your employer. These demands are dependent on what you and your work colleagues decide to pursue. Bigger employers have no excuse not to continue paying staff their regular wage and benefits. Smaller businesses should be demanding that the government step in to support them doing the same. Irrespective of where you work, workers should not be the ones feeling the financial impact of this pandemic. The government as already set measures to help support businesses, we need to fight to guarantee these measures are to the benefit of workers.
You are entitled to money for the work you have already done irrespective of the current status of your workplace.
By building a group of workers with a list of collective demands you are well on your way to forming a union. Once you have a plan and enough people on board that you think the boss will have to respond it is time for a group of you to present your demand to the boss. Before you do, you should join a trade union, because it will give you security whatever you decide to do.
If you aren’t, sure which Trade Union to join, get in touch and we will help steer you in the right direction. For those in Hospitality, join Unite Hospitality. Unite Hospitality has been putting out lots of valuable information on their Twitter & Facebook.
If your employer chooses to reject/ignore your demands, it may be time to ramp things up. We can help support you in deciding what to do next.
In many jobs, especially those deemed self-employed, it may not be possible to form units directly with fellow workers. This may include self-employed cleaners, carers or delivery drivers.
We encourage workers in situations such as these to get in touch with us. We want to help facilitate local networks of workers working in the same/similar industries. Through these networks, we can begin to understand detailed issues being faced and work on a list of demands and actions at a sectoral level.
Unite is the largest trade union in the UK and Ireland with members across the private, public and voluntary sectors including manufacturing, public services, transport, food, finance and construction. Even if you are not in work, there is a place for you in our community or retired member sections.
Have a voice, take action and make change happen. Join the union today!