Socialist Party
| Print

31 March 2020

Key workers should make bold demands

The coronavirus epidemic has highlighted how important health and social care staff are in caring for some of the most vulnerable, and keeping society running. Through our work we help people to live safely, and with dignity, and reduce the strain on hospitals and A&Es. In a sector characterised by low pay and poor conditions, it is important that trade unionists and activists now make bold demands.

I am the union convenor in my workplace, a homeless charity in London. Although we have shut our day centre due to the pandemic, we are now being asked to return to staff the homeless hotels housing rough sleepers.

We have won a number of important concessions, including: full pay for all those self-isolating or off sick; full pay for any locums who have had shifts cancelled or had to self-isolate; return to face-to-face work on a voluntary basis only; pause in all disciplinary hearings and restructure procedures until we return to the work place; weekly Joint Negotiating Committees to deal with workplace issues; for all employees to have the option of travelling to work via taxi, paid for by the employer, to reduce risk of contagion, and for all clients to be given mobiles to reduce face-to-face contact where necessary.

In an environment where even a journey to work can be a potential risk, it is important for us to demand every action is taken to ensure safety where possible, and that workers are treated with the respect they deserve.

Jack Jeffery, North London Socialist Party