A trade union meeting via Zoom

A trade union meeting via Zoom   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The coronavirus pandemic throws up its own unique problems and challenges which cannot wait until after the lockdown has ended. Workers are being subjected to unfair and unsafe conditions now, and it is simply unacceptable for union leaders to put things off.

Plymouth and district general Usdaw branch has made use of Zoom and met on 22 April to ensure that members can still come together. It is clear the union is needed to defend against the lack of PPE as well as the disregard of social-distancing guidelines by management in many stores.

There is no reason why union members can’t meet by making use of apps like Zoom.

If key workers are expected to work as normal, why can’t we also organise in a trade union as normal? Where this isn’t already taking place, workers should demand that branches find ways to overcome the lockdown so that union branches aren’t effectively suspended at a time when they are vitally important to struggle.

It needs to be made clear to bosses that workers will not abide profits being put before workers’ health and safety; dangerous conditions should be met with walkouts. Likewise, it needs to be made abundantly clear to union leaders that inaction will not be tolerated. This is especially so with thousands of new members looking to the unions to step up and fight to defend, and indeed advance workers’ rights and conditions.

Ryan Aldred, Usdaw Plymouth and district general branch secretary (personal capacity)