Leeds Trades Union Council (Leeds TUC), which works across trade union branches to campaign around issues affecting working people in Leeds, brings people solidarity at this very difficult time in dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. Trade Unions are working hard, nationally and locally, to respond to the challenges presented by Covid-19. Already over 10,000 people have died in the UK, with thousands more expected to tragically die and many more to experience this disease.
Frontline key workers risk unnecessary exposure to Covid-19 through a lack of adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the inadequate levels of testing for Covid-19 to allow workers to know whether they could be inadvertently spreading it. Meanwhile, wide layers of workers have been laid off or furloughed on 80% pay, with around a million new claimants of universal credit in recent weeks.
Given the criminal unpreparedness of the government for this crisis, with a decade of austerity undermining the NHS and other now key frontline services, whilst making promises about the availability of testing and PPE that have proven to be fantasies. Their handling of this crisis has put the wellbeing of workers and the wider UK population second to the profits of their big business backers.
When the country begins to move out of the pandemic the cost of the crisis should not be paid for by working people. We have seen how working people were made to pay for the financial crisis of 2008-2009 through cuts across the public sector and this cannot be allowed to happen now.
It is clear that trade unions have a vital role to play in holding the government to account and ensuring that the defence of workers health and welfare is not a secondary concern. We think it is vital for trade unionists to be meeting to discuss the ongoing situation which is why we are continuing to host meetings for trade unionists across the city to discuss the ongoing situation. We encourage our affiliates and other trade union branches to hold online meetings to ensure that reps can come together to collectively take up our concerns. We are happy to help advise trade union branches about what platforms they could utilise to do this.
If you are worried about health & safety in your own workplace speak to your local Trade Union rep and / or your Trade Union. If you are not a member of a Trade Union then join one, please contact us if you need advice about which trade union would be suitable for you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leeds TUC is calling for
COMBATING THE VIRUS – SUPPORT OUR NHS
- Universal testing and tracing
- Personal Protective Equipment for all who need it
- Urgent procurement of ventilators and other vital medical equipment and supplies
- For any workplace where a member of staff shows symptoms of Covid-19 this workplace should be closed, excluding hospitals and care homes where this may not be practical. A deep clean should take place and the workplace should not be reopened until a health & safety inspection is completed and agreed as a safe working environment by both the organisation and Trade Union.
- Lifting of social distancing or other measures to fight the crisis to be on a safety-first basis
- Nationalisation of all health facilities and a fully funded NHS, write off PFI and other debts
SUPPORT FOR WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Government measures to support workers so far fall far short of what is required, especially for the least well-off. We demand:
- Enhanced pay i.e. £15 per hour minimum for all key workers
- Universal Credit is not fit for purpose – a proper minimum safety net for all based on the Foundation Living Wage, immediate end to 5-week wait and scrap all sanctions
- Immediate increase in Statutory Sick Pay
- An end to all sackings and stand-downs and the immediate reinstatement of sacked workers
- Redeployment for those able to work in the manufacture of new ventilators, face masks and safety equipment, other vital goods and services
- Closure of all non-essential work to keep the maximum number of people safe, with full pay from day one for all workers, including at average pay levels for workers on zero-hour or short-hour contracts as well as the self-employed. Oppose forcing workers to use annual leave whilst furloughed or sick pay
- Personal protective equipment to all workers in contact with the public and full risk assessments to ensure their safety
- Unreasonable productivity targets and harsh disciplinary regimes must be scrapped
- Build the trade unions as our collective voices in workplaces and society. Trade union control over workplace safety and other emergency measures
- Full trade union rights to be restored as a matter of urgency
SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITIES
- Financial support for families who are struggling by pausing all rent, mortgage payments, credit card and utility bills until further notice
- Coordination and distribution of food and other essential supplies to all vulnerable people
- Safe and supported education and other provision for children of essential workers, as well as vulnerable children
- Requisition of buildings, hotels and empty housing for homeless people and those living in cramped conditions and a stop to all evictions
- Challenge all racist scapegoating and support out BAME communities
- Domestic violence is a major concern under the stay at home policy. Refuges must stay open; places must be increased and support of and access to refuges and other services must be improved (including increased training for relevant agencies)
- We support DPAC, Equalities and Human Rights UK and others who have expressed their concerns and complaints about the blanket imposition of Do Not Resuscitate orders and denial of access to life saving interventions upon vulnerable people, along with the coercive tactics being deployed in some areas, to compel people to agree to signing or having DNRs imposed upon them
- Close immigration detention centres and allow all refugees and asylum seekers to work and contribute their skills
- No profiteering on the back of the crisis – implement price controls. Excess profits made from this crisis by private companies to be given to public bodies set up to support the victims of this crisis
- Direct economic intervention, including taking over factories, and planning to ensure that we manufacture the things we need to keep us safe e.g. ventilators, food, tests, vaccines and protective equipment
- Police powers must be used wisely and with public consent and democratic oversight – we will challenge any abuse
- Implementation of universal basic services (a form of social security in which all citizens receive unconditional access to a range of free, basic and public services provided by the government)
- Nationalise the banks to provide small businesses with cheap loans.
- Reverse cuts and hire more workers in the civil service to ensure promised support to workers, self-employed and small businesses is delivered
A BETTER VISION FOR THE FUTURE
- We need to reverse the privatisation of our important public services, public transport and utilities – public sector workers must be better valued, and their pay and pensions restored
- We must not see a return to austerity to pay back the new public debt
- Inequality in the 5th wealthiest nation has been exposed – there must be a total realignment and redistribution of wealth
- We have re-learnt the values of humanity and solidarity between communities – never again will we accept xenophobic anti-immigration rhetoric and racism
- The Coronavirus crisis has not supplanted the climate crisis. It has made it more urgent. We need to save our planet by building a greener, fairer and kinder world, promoting a Green New Deal that allows for a just transition for all
– (TUC) Join a Trade Union
– (TUC) Guidance for Unions
– (TUC) Webinar: Coronavirus at work
– (Labour Unions) Covid-19 – Member Support/Guidance – Labour Unions is the body that brings together the 12 Trade Unions who are affiliated to the Labour Party (ASLEF, BFAWU, Community, CWU, FBU, GMB, MU, NUM, TSSA, Unison, Unite, USDAW)
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