• University of Birmingham: let us choose to work flexibly
    Over the past year, we have successfully adapted to remote working made necessary by the pandemic. We have worked hard to ensure the work of the University has continued, in a safe and effective way. We have made sure systems still run, research is able to continue, and students are still able to have the best experience possible. Feedback from University management has rightly recognised this: "We can all feel proud of the quality of education that we have been able to maintain in the most difficult of circumstances. [It] is a testament to your dedication, and to the supportive environment that you have all helped to create." "Indeed, one of the more positive lessons of the pandemic is that we can do some pretty fabulous things online." (Emails to all staff from Head of College of Social Sciences) We have done all this from home. While the COVID-19 crisis has brought many challenges, there have also been opportunities. Being able to work from home has meant a better work-life balance, and more inclusive ways of working for disabled staff and those with caring responsibilities - often met by women. We are concerned that one of the few positive points of the COVID-19 pandemic - our ability to work flexibly and remotely, improving our work-life balance and our productivity - will be lost as we begin to emerge from lockdown. We ask the University to make sure this does not happen, and staff at all levels are enabled to keep working well. We Need to Keep Working Safely As the most recent lockdown begins to lift, we want to ensure we are able to keep these flexible working arrangements, where they work for us. This means ensuring that all those who want to continue to work from home, and for whom it is practical and accessible to do so, are able to keep the flexibility they have been able to work with, without having to go through onerous formal application processes. This also means ensuring disabled, chronically ill and neurodivergent staff have the right adjustments in place both at home and on campus, right from the beginning of their employment, to enable them to work safely, productively and flexibly. We ask the University to work with UCU, Unison, Unite and GMB to ensure all staff are able to work in ways that work for them, including having the right adjustments in place to enable us to work flexibly. The Benefits of Remote and Flexible Working It has been argued by organisations such as the Chartered Management Institute that home working, and other flexible working arrangements, can be a part of closing gender and disability pay and leadership gaps, as well as improving the attraction, retention, progression, and well-being of employees. The University of Birmingham’s own research into increased flexible working during COVID-19, in partnership with the University of Kent, found that most respondents noted they would prefer to work more flexibly in the future (including 52% of all parents and 66% of non-parents), after benefitting from a better work-life balance, increased productivity and improved wellbeing during lockdown. The University's Business School has also written about some of the benefits of home working, flexible working and blended approaches. Research from Cardiff University and the University of Southampton found that 70% of employees surveyed found their productivity either stayed the same or increased while they were working from home. The Government itself has argued flexible working - including flexi-time and home working - should be normalised, stating it would ‘boost productivity and particularly help women and those outside major cities’. By enabling all staff to continue working in ways that work for them, the University can make meaningful progress on some of its targets around dismantling structural barriers faced by groups within the University, as part of its 2021-24 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion scheme. This includes demonstrating the University’s commitment to being a “Disability Confident” employer, by ensuring the benefits of remote and flexible working for disabled people are not lost; and making it easier for those with caring responsibilities to balance these with their work. Home working can also contribute positively to the UoB Sustainable Travel Plan by reducing travel to campus and surrounding areas, and address the significant issues that staff have faced with parking on campus. Trust us to Work Well An earlier email from the chairs and co-chairs of the University’s staff networks stated that there was clear evidence of ‘a desire for global culture change that embeds a transparent trusted approach in relationships between staff and leaders.’ We ask the University of Birmingham to trust staff, who have consistently demonstrated their ability to adapt and deliver to a high standard, given the right support. We ask the University of Birmingham to demonstrate its worth as an employer that trusts and empowers its staff: trust us to work flexibly, in ways that work for us, and that benefit everyone.
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  • Protect Education
    The Scottish Government has prioritised school education during the pandemic; it has now opened schools for a full pupil return in P1-3 whilst continuing to lock down other parts of society and people’s lives outside of school. The EIS believes that teachers and other school staff should be vaccinated in phase 2 of the Scottish vaccination programme – the Scottish Government has the power to do this, and it will help to safely implement their policy of prioritising schools. Furthermore, the EIS believes that medical grade facemasks should be provided to teachers and other school staff to better protect against the coronavirus and its variants, especially by aerosol transmission. Finally, the EIS believes that ventilation in classrooms is of key importance and is concerned to hear of members’ poor experiences in this regard.
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  • Covid Safety Measures
    Are your Local Authorities Trades People and Council Tenants being put at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 during the National Lockdown? During the first lockdown local authorities across the country reduced the service they provided and carried out emergencies only repairs in occupied houses. Following the announcement from Boris Johnson of a further lockdown on January 5th, some local authorities have been slow to act and are continuing with non-essential works within occupied properties. The workers can visit numerous properties within a day, frequently exposing workers and the tenants to the serious risk of contracting COVID-19. Latest information indicates one in three people do not show any symptoms of the deadly virus. The new strain of the virus is 70% more transmissible and evidence suggests more variants are likely to develop. By signing this petition, you are supporting Unite the Union to help reduce the spread of infections amongst workers and tenants within your Local Authority. Checklist for Members and Reps (Re Construction Tradespersons entering properties and occupied premises) • Unite supports local authorities and housing associations responding to emergency situations and essential maintenance only in occupied properties. • Planned maintenance work can be undertaken in vacant (void) properties provided risk assessments are conducted and strict social distancing measures are enforced at all times. • All necessary PPE supplied to workers who must have it before commencing work and completing jobs safely. • Employers must consult with trade union representatives when producing a risk assessment and the results of risk assessments shared with and communicated to employees. All existing risk assessments need to be reviewed and updated. • Unite reiterates the requirement for dynamic risk assessment which Includes an agreed stop work process, where the assessment highlights a serious risk. Incorporates method statements, including induction processes, being delivered remotely, utilising modern technology to update and inform all employees and workers prior to any works commencing. • Safe systems of work to be reviewed and updated in light of the increased transmission of the new Covid-19 variant. This to include workplace and travel to work policies. • Involvement of Unite stewards and health and safety representatives in all safety discussions. Please see Unite coronavirus guide. • All employers must construct a stop work on health and safety grounds procedure. An employee who believes their safety is threatened can stop work, and work cannot be resumed until a solution is agreed. Develop these procedures with trade union representatives. • All employees afforded protection under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (the right to withdraw from a work area when faced with imminent risk to health/safety). https://unitetheunion.org/media/3094/legal-s44-100-advice-to-members-returning-to-workplaces-200520.pdf • The right to decline work due to the failure of the responsible entity/person to ensure social distancing on site with no detriment to the worker.
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  • Fair Pay for East Lancs Engie Security Staff
    Engie security staff at Blackburn and Burnley hospitals work around the clock to keep people safe at the hospital but are paid far less than our colleagues who do the same job for the NHS. We are often forced to take on unhealthy amounts of overtime that take us away from their families and impacts our health and wellbeing due to low pay. For too long outsourced companies have exploited their staff for private profit. By supporting Engie staff, you are taking a stand against this. Fair pay must be at the centre of all public services. As a vital part of the NHS team, Engie Security staff deserve the same pay and conditions as our NHS colleagues.
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  • End the crew change crisis
    An estimated 400,000 seafarers from across the globe are stranded on ships, continuing to work but unable to be relieved, in a crew change crisis which threatens trade and maritime safety. Some seafarers have now been at sea for up to 18 months without a break. An equivalent number have been unable to join their ships to work, and many have not been able to claim any government financial support.
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  • Keep staff and passengers safe – Tackle worker fatigue at Serco Caledonian Sleeper
    The overnight Caledonian Sleeper services run between London and Scotland with staff working 15 hour shifts on average. Work related fatigue is widespread amongst Caledonian Sleeper staff. Fatigue is a serious issue which can cause long-term health effects, including depression and anxiety, headaches and digestive problems and risks passenger and staff safety. Even a risk assessment commissioned by Serco found that staff fatigue was a significant problem that the employer needed to address. RMT believes that a key cause of staff fatigue is a lack of berths (cabins) for staff rest periods. For months, RMT has been seeking to engage with Serco to agree a resolution to these issues. Yet, Serco has shown a complete lack of willingness to act on this issue. RMT also believes that the staff fatigue has been compounded by the additional pressures of Covid-19. In an attempt to negotiate a safe and fair resolution to this dispute, RMT has suggested that Serco temporarily make an additional two berths available for staff rest periods, which would bring the total number of berths available for this purpose to three, with the aim of reducing staff fatigue, and suggests that this arrangement would be reviewed every twelve weeks or sooner, in light of Covid-19. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the Serco Caledonian Sleeper franchise is being funded with public money, in the form of an Emergency Measures Agreement. Yet, Transport Scotland has, so far, refused to intervene on this matter, even though millions of pounds of public money is being used to prop up Serco Caledonian Sleeper. RMT members took part in industrial action in October 2020 in defense of staff and passenger safety and further industrial action is scheduled for December 2020. Unfortunately, RMT believes that there is no willingness on the part of either Serco or Transport Scotland to resolve this dispute. Yet, RMT is demanding nothing more than a safe working environment for all of Serco Caledonian Sleeper’s hardworking employees and a safe environment for passengers. Therefore, RMT is calling on Transport Scotland and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP to immediately intervene and instruct Serco to settle this dispute. Please show your support by signing this petition and supporting staff safety on the Caledonian Sleeper.
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  • Demand support for older workers in creative industries
    The future of the creative industries relies on immediate government action to support all of it’s workers. But current government schemes mean creative workers 60 and over can not get the insurance they need to safely return to work. If older workers in creative industries cannot return to, they will not only be excluded from work - but the entire sector will suffer. The experience and talent of older workers cannot be replaced, and is central to the recovery of the industry.
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  • #SickPayForAll: Guarantee decent sick pay for every worker
    For those who do qualify, the current payment of £95.85 a week is not enough to pay the bills. 4 in 10 workers would be forced into financial hardship. At a time of skyrocketing cases, fixing statutory sick pay can prevent the spread of the virus and ensure millions can get paid to quarantine safely at home. No one who self-isolates should worry about putting food on the table. No one should feel forced to go to work instead of recovering from the virus. Everyone has the right to decent sick pay.
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  • Don't Throw Hospitality Workers Under the Bus!
    With the Job Retention Scheme coming to an end in a matter of days alongside another closure of our industry, we are demanding that Stormont, Westminster and unscrupulous employers own up to their criminal mismanagement of this pandemic and stop throwing hospitality workers under the bus to cover for their mistakes. Public health should come before all else. Any restrictions should be clear, consistent and evidence-based - rather than half-baked. When closures are announced, supports must be put in place for workers before they are implemented. Our livelihoods are at risk not only as a result of restrictions but because widespread use of precarious and zero-hour contracts and the limited employment rights they bestow upon us. Hospitality workers were laid off in our thousands at the first sign of crisis. We were then rehired on 80% of our wage, just to now be kicked on the dump heap once more. More and more employers are engaging in knee-jerk redundancies and plans to fire and rehire workers to degrade their employment rights and entitlements. Reports from our Trade Unions and the Low Pay Commission already demonstrated how the current minimum wage amounts to an inescapable cycle of poverty. Even before Covid, hospitality workers were speaking out about their struggles to make ends meet. Then, we were expected to get by on only 80% of that measly amount. Now, we are somehow expected to survive on only 67% or 73%. For some, that is as low as £4.30 per hour. This is not good enough - our landlords won't accept two-thirds of our rent, and our electricity providers accept us only paying 67% of our bills. With the winter coming in many of us may now have to make the call; do I pay the bills, heat the house, or have a Christmas? Let’s face the facts: workers in the industry can't survive without being guaranteed 100% of our wages. Without such a guarantee, the industry will rapidly haemorrhage incredibly talented and highly skilled workers who will be forced to look for work in other industries. Unite the Union estimates that while one in eight jobs in the sector have already been lost; one in six of those who remain could lose their jobs in the next six months as businesses warn of up to 40,000 job losses as they are set to fail given lockdown measures and further restrictions on the hospitality sector. Whilst hospitality workers understand that this pandemic needs urgent action to prevent transmission spiralling out of control, our jobs and livelihoods should not be sacrificed in order to do so. Politicians at Stormont have frequently expressed how important the hospitality and tourism sector is to the Northern Irish Economy. Now it is time for them to put their money where their mouth is and provide support for us after we have been providing for everyone else for so long. We have kept key workers fed and watered throughout these tough months - we put ourselves on the line so others could enjoy moments of respite in our bars, cafes and restaurants - and we have time and time again given up our own holidays to make yours special. All we are asking for in return is an income we can survive on, and working conditions that ensure our future stability. Please sign this petition and support workers in hospitality & tourism.
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  • Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise: Demand a living wage and sick pay during local lockdown
    The Sheffield City Region is the ‘low pay capital’ of the UK and has consistently ranked highly on COVID infection-rate charts. Now on the brink of a local lockdown, the lives of low wage workers in the city are in turmoil. This pandemic has shone a light on the people who really keep Sheffield going. It isn’t the billionaires, the bankers or the CEOs. It’s the healthcare workers, the carers, the cleaners, the transport workers, the refuse collectors and the fast food workers who feed people. The working class people struggling to get by. Working conditions in these industries are deteriorating quickly - adequate PPE is not available and social distancing is impossible. Fast food restaurants, shops and distribution warehouses are becoming epicentres for continuing the spread of the virus, resulting in multiple serious workplace outbreaks. If low wage workers have to self-isolate, most are forced to rely on Statutory Sick Pay, which is only £95.85 a week. Some won’t even receive that. Employers are risking the health of our communities by putting workers in the impossible position of choosing between health and paying the bills. Global corporations like McDonald’s and Amazon have the money to protect workers - but they choose to pay billions in dividends to shareholders instead.
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  • Greencore: Guarantee full pay for your self-isolating workers!
    At Greencore Northampton, we make sandwiches and meals for Marks & Spencer. And last month, we became the site of one of the UK’s largest outbreaks of Covid-19. It has been a terrifying time, with over 300 staff testing positive for the virus and many being severely ill. Not only did we have to deal with illness and worry for the health of our loved ones, but for the hundreds forced to isolate, we saw a drastic drop in earnings to just £95 a week and huge financial uncertainty. This is because Greencore initially refused to pay more than the legal minimum of Statutory Sick Pay. After our union spoke up, they put in a temporary increase to 80% pay. But isolation pay goes back to just £95 a week from next month – though we know the pandemic will be with us for way longer than that. £95 a week simply isn’t enough to live on, and it will only make dealing with the outbreak harder as we go into the autumn and a possible second wave. We've all been living with financial hardship for months now in any case, as Greencore also refused to top up the government's 80% furlough pay. Many of us have effectively been paid below the minimum wage for our regular hours for months. We’re caught in the middle between wanting to do the right thing, follow government guidance and protect ourselves and our communities, and the fact that we simply can’t afford not to work. It’s not impossible to solve. Rival firm Greggs have agreed with the union, BFAWU, to pay isolating staff in full. They’ve put this into effect quickly, helping them close down an outbreak in Leeds before it could become severe. It kept their community safe and their staff’s livelihoods secure. If Greggs can do this then Greencore, with their healthy profit level, should be able to. Can you help us demand change from our bosses at Greencore? Through our union we’re demanding fair pay for all staff forced to isolate, now and into the future. Please add your voice by emailing Greencore now. If we can fix this at Greencore, we can also increase the pressure on bosses everywhere to do the decent thing by their staff if Covid-19 hits their workplaces. And we can reduce the number of serious outbreaks so that other workers don’t have to go through what we have.
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  • Force companies to publish their Covid safety plans
    Under the government’s Covid-secure rules, employers have to complete a process called a risk assessment. They must list all the ways people could be put at risk when their business is running and what they’ll do to make them safer. The government says medium and larger employers should publish this important document in full on their website, for everyone to see, but fewer than 200 out of tens of thousands of businesses have actually done so. Workers and customers need reassurance. People want to work, but not if it means putting themselves and their loved ones at risk. If big companies are allowed to get away with keeping their risk assessments secret it undermines trust everywhere. If we force every employer to publish, we’ll be able to see and share what is working to keep people safe. And government will be able to crack down on employers that are putting their people at risk. Right now the government aren’t doing anything to make sure companies publish their risk assessments. But it wouldn’t be hard - for example, they already make companies publish gender pay gap information online for example. Business Secretary Alok Sharma needs to update the government’s Covid-secure guidelines to make it illegal for larger employers to keep their risk assessments secret. And they should have to put them on a central government website. This is how we make sure everyone returns to work as safely as possible.
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