International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Every year around 27 January, UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. It was officially proclaimed, in november 2005, International Day (link is external)of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly. 

The Holocaust profoundly affected countries in which Nazi crimes were perpetrated, but also had universal implications and consequences in many other parts of the world. Member States share a collective responsibility for addressing the residual trauma, maintaining effective remembrance policies, caring for historic sites, and promoting education, documentation and research, seven decades after the genocide. This responsibility entails educating about the causes, consequences and dynamics of such crimes so as to strengthen the resilience of young people against ideologies of hatred. As genocide and atrocity crimes keep occurring across several regions, and as we are witnessing a global rise of anti-Semitism and hateful discourses, this has never been so relevant.

Enough is (NOT) Enough

After years of declining pay, council and school workers have had enough. It’s time
to take action on pay – enough is enough!

Youth workers, care workers, refuse collectors, social workers, teaching assistants, community workers, street cleaners and so many more went above and beyond during the pandemic. You kept communities safe, cared for the most vulnerable, and ensured schools remained open throughout successive lockdowns.

You went out to work, so that others could stay home.

Despite this, you have been offered 1.75%. With inflation running at over 3%, this is a real terms pay cut. 

That’s why we are asking members working for the council and in schools to vote for strike action. If this applies to you, you will receive important voting papers through the post in early December. Every member must post their ballot back by 14 January.

Chep workers in Manchester to extend strikes as pallet shortage deepens

Workers employed by pallet makers Chep UK Limited, have embarked on all out continuous strike action from this Friday (17 December) in a dispute over pay.

The workers, who belong to Unite, the UK’s leading union, have already taken four days of strike action since the strike began earlier this month. They are stepping up their action as there has been no engagement or negotiations with the company since the dispute began.

No to paltry pay

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite members employed by Chep are not going to accept a paltry pay offer which amounts to a real terms pay cut.

“Chep’s ability to make a fair pay rise is not in doubt – this is purely an attack on the union, because the company’s real fear is for our members to finally have a voice in their workplace, which has for too long been missing.

“Unite is dedicated to putting the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first. The union will back our members at Chep to the hilt until they receive a fair pay rise.”

Real term pay cut

The dispute is a result of the company refusing to improve on a two per cent pay offer. This is a substantial real terms pay cut with the retail price index (RPI) rate of inflation now standing at 7.1 per cent.

The strikes have already had a considerable effect on the business, which is based at Trafford Park in Manchester, with 80 per cent of delivery lorries refusing to cross picket lines and turning away.

Booming company

Chep is enjoying a boom time and is making substantial profits. The company supplies pallets to companies across the North West and its major customers include InBev, Heinz, Heineken, A&B Containers, Encric and TDS. 

With the all-out strikes set to begin this week it is expected that a severe shortage of pallets will quickly occur.

No negotiations 

Unite regional officer Ian McCluskey said: “It is highly disappointing that Chep has refused to enter into any discussions or negotiations with Unite since the strikes began, in order to resolve this dispute.

“Unite believes that the dispute has already cost Chep more in disrupted and unfulfilled orders then it would have cost to make its workers a fair pay offer.

“This dispute could be easily resolved by Chep making a fair pay offer to its workers and entering into talks. The ball is firmly in the company’s court.”

UK workers face worst real-terms sick pay in nearly two decades as Covid-19 cases surge – new TUC analysis

Our sick pay continues to fall behind
  • NEW ANALYSIS: Statutory sick pay worth £3 per week less now compared to start of pandemic
  • TUC warns hundreds of thousands could be without decent sick pay while self-isolating over the Christmas period, risking further unnecessary transmission
  • As Omicron rages, TUC calls on the government to come to its senses and finally deliver decent sick pay for all

The UK now has the lowest statutory sick pay in real terms in almost two decades, according to new analysis by the TUC released today (Saturday).

The last time real statutory sick pay was lower was March 2003 – almost nineteen years ago.

And statutory sick pay is already worth £3 per week less in real terms now than it was at start of pandemic in February 2020, due to increases in the already-low benefit failing to keep pace with the cost of living.

The union body has published this new analysis as it calls on ministers to come to their senses and finally deliver decent sick pay for all – which it says is a “vital public health tool” in the fight against the virus.

The call comes as the Omicron variant rages and coronavirus cases surge across the country – with the highest number of daily cases ever recorded in a day earlier this week.

As a result, some are predicting a miserable Christmas. The Times estimates that four million will have to self-isolate over the Christmas period – four times the amount of 2020.

The TUC warns that if this estimate is correct, hundreds of thousands of workers could be self-isolating without decent sick pay this Christmas, relying on “miserly” statutory sick pay or receiving nothing at all – leading to further unnecessary transmission.

TUC research shows that around a quarter of workers get just statutory sick pay, and just under one in ten get nothing at all.

Recent analysis from the union body also warned that 650,000 workers over the festive period in sectors like hospitality, the arts and retail will have no sick pay.

Decent sick pay for all

The UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 per week. And it is only available to employees earning £120 per week or more – meaning two million workers, mostly women, do not qualify.

TUC research has found that this leaves around a third of workers – over 10 million people – with sick pay that is too low to meet basic living costs, or with no sick pay at all.

Removing the lower earnings limit, which prevents those on low pay accessing statutory sick pay, would cost employers a maximum of £150m a year. And it would cost the government less than one per cent of the test and trace scheme to support employers with these costs.

In July this year, the government rowed back on its decision to remove the lower earnings limit – in response the TUC accused ministers of “abandoning low-paid workers at the worst possible time”.

The government introduced a temporary scheme to assist people who face hardship if required to self-isolate. However, TUC research has found that two-thirds of applications (64%) are rejected – in part because the funding is too low, and many workers are not aware of it.

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Extend statutory sick pay protection to every worker by removing the lower earnings limit.
  • Increase statutory sick pay to at least the value of the real Living Wage – (£346 per week)

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“No one should be forced to choose between doing the right thing and self-isolating or putting food on the table.

“But this is the reality for millions of workers up and down the country who rely on our miserly statutory sick pay, or get no sick pay at all because they don’t earn enough.

“With the cost of living ticking up, statutory sick pay is worth its lowest in almost two decades – leaving millions of workers who fall sick struggling to pay the bills and get by.

“It’s a monumental failure that nearly two years into the pandemic, this vital public health tool has been ignored time and time again by the government.

“As the Omicron variant rages and coronavirus cases sweep across the country, it’s time ministers came to their senses and finally delivered decent sick pay for all.

“That means statutory sick pay you can live on and making sure everyone has access to it.”

Winning a rise for Key workers

Day in, day out key workers take care of us. And during the pandemic – they never stopped. All of our key workers need a pay rise.

Our objectives

The people that kept this country going during the pandemic are our key workers. Those working across the private and public sector in health and social care, education, wholesale and retail, food production and transport, and in our public services.

Yet, many are underpaid, undervalued and overrepresented in insecure work. TUC analysis as part of this campaign has revealed:

Our asks of government are simple – give all key workers a pay rise. They can do this by:

  1. Ending the freeze on public service workers’ pay and giving all public service workers a decent pay rise.
  2. Raising the national minimum wage to £10 per hour immediately.
  3. Funding the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage and get parity with directly employed staff.

Climate Jobs

This report was written by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group (CACCTU).
It builds on and develops the earlier work produced by CACCTU, One Million Climate Jobs
(2014). The editorial group and contributors to this report are trade unionists, environmental
activists and campaigners and academics who have collaborated to update and expand the
previous work. Most importantly, this updated report is a response to the urgency of the
climate crisis and the type and scale of the transition needed to match it.

Denied and discriminated against

The reality of flexible working for working mums

Government

The government’s proposals in their latest consultation on flexible working fall far short of their aim of making flexible working the default.

To unlock the flexibility in all jobs and for all workers the government should introduce:

  •  a legal duty on employers to consider which flexible working arrangements are available in a role and publish these in job advertisements, with the new postholder having a day one right to take up the flexible working arrangements that have been advertised. If an employer does not think that any flexible working arrangements are possible, they should be required to set out the exceptional circumstances that justify this decision.
  • a day-one right to request flexible working for all workers, with the criteria for rejection mirroring the exceptional circumstances set out above. Workers should have a right to appeal and no restrictions on the number of flexible working requests made.

Employers

Employers do not need to wait for legislative change in making genuine flexible work the default in their workplaces and ensuring that all workers have the opportunity to benefit from positive flexibility that helps them to balance work and home life.

Employers should include the specific types of flexibility available in job adverts with the postholder being able to take this up on the first day of the job.

In our ‘Future of flexible working’ report, we have published a set of principles that employers should follow when implementing flexible working. These include important measures to ensure flexible working becomes the norm for all workers, tackle negative workplace cultures and stereotyped attitudes towards flexible working and ensure that those who work flexibly are not disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Employers should monitor the implementation of flexible working to ensure it is promoting equality. This may be particularly important for employers introducing hybrid ways of working following the pandemic, as research suggests blanket approaches can lead negative impacts for women.

Trade unions

Trade unions should:

  • work with employers to review flexible working policies and practices and should negotiate for increased access to flexible working and for the protections outlined in our principles. Trade unions are best placed to ensure the needs of employers and preferences of staff are reconciled through constructive dialogue and negotiation.
  • train reps in negotiating for flexible work policies and supporting members with flexible working requests. Unions should train reps in organising hybrid workforces, where members may be spread across different locations and working different hours.
  •  monitor the impact of flexible working and negotiate for any necessary changes in the future.

For more detail on our recommendations on flexible working, see our Future of flexible working report.

Download denied and discriminated against full report (pdf)

Nine in 10 disabled workers want to continue working from home after pandemic – TUC poll

Nine in 10 disabled workers surveyed (90 per cent) who worked from home during the pandemic want to continue doing so at least some of the time, according to a TUC poll published today (Wednesday).

  • An overwhelming majority of disabled workers who worked from home during the pandemic told the TUC that they want to continue doing so permanently 
  • Employers have a duty to put in place reasonable adjustments for disabled workers which can include enabling flexible and home working, says union body 
  • TUC calls for government to make sure that disabled workers who worked from home during the pandemic can continue to do so 

9 in 10 disabled workers surveyed (90 per cent) who worked from home during the pandemic want to continue doing so at least some of the time, according to a TUC poll published today (Wednesday). 

The poll – run by YouGov for the TUC – found that many disabled workers experienced working from home for the first time during the pandemic. 

Working from home was a gamechanger for many disabled workers  

Disabled workers who were able to work from home told the TUC that it had had a positive impact on them and their working lives: 

  • Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) said that it gave them greater control over their working hours 
  • Just under half (47 per cent) said they had been able to change their work routines 
  • Two in five (40 per cent) said that it reduced their tiredness and fatigue 
  • More than a quarter (26 per cent) said their mental health had improved  
  • More than one in five (21 per cent) said that working from home had helped them better manage their caring responsibilities 

Not all organisations managed the transition to working from home well enough, though. One third of disabled workers (34 per cent) who worked from home said that they lacked proper office equipment such as a desk, chair or computer.   

One in 11 (nine per cent) experienced difficulties taking part in online meetings because of their disability, impairment or heath condition and one in 14 (seven per cent) lacked the software they needed to do their job – such as speech to text programmes. 

Widening access to flexible work helps disabled people stay in work 

TUC research has found that only just over half (55 per cent) of those who asked their employers for reasonable adjustments during the pandemic said that they had been made in full. Employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for all disabled employees – both those working from a workplace and those working from home.

The TUC says that enabling flexible working practices can be a reasonable adjustment – and should be considered to support disabled workers. Most disabled people told the TUC that they wanted continued access to flexible working practices after the pandemic: 

  • Three in four (75 per cent) disabled workers who can work from home said that they would like to be able to do so at least some of the time 
  • Just under seven in 10 (68 per cent) of all disabled workers want some form of hours based flexibility. 25 per cent said their ideal work pattern would be to work flexi-time, and 23 per cent want to work part-time 
  • A quarter (25 per cent) said they wanted to have flexibility around start and end times, sometimes called flexitime 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

“Disabled people were hit hard by Covid-19.  Six in ten of all Covid deaths were of disabled people.  

“Disabled workers still face barriers getting and keeping a job – and are often paid less than their non-disabled peers. 

“During the pandemic, many disabled people were able to work flexibly or from home for the first time – often after being previously told that it was not possible in their job. Even amid the grief and isolation of the pandemic, these changed working patterns improved the experience of many disabled people at work.   

“We can’t go back. Employers must offer all disabled people who can work from home the right to continue working from home, as a reasonable adjustment. And they must offer appropriate flexible working options as standard in all jobs – both as a reasonable adjustment for disabled workers, and as a right for every worker.  

“Ministers must change the law so that all jobs are advertised with flexible options clearly stated, and all workers have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job.” 

Action needed 

The TUC is calling for action to help disabled people get the flexibility they need to stay in work, including: 

  • Make sure that disabled workers who worked from home during the pandemic can continue to do so.  
  • Unlock the flexibility in all jobs. Every job can be worked flexibly. Employers should think upfront about the flexible working options that are available in a role, publish these in all job adverts and give successful applicants a day one right to take it up. 
  • Making flexible working a genuine legal right from the first day in a job: People should be allowed to work flexibly from day one, unless there are exceptional circumstances that prevent it. They should have the right to appeal any rejections. And there shouldn’t be a limit on how many times you can ask for flexible working arrangements in a year. 
  • Make sure every disabled worker gets the reasonable adjustments they need to do their job – which are their legal right. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should update their statutory Code of Practice on disabled people and employment, so it includes more examples of what timely implementation of reasonable adjustments looks like and reflects the advances in home and flexible working during the pandemic.