Latest News

They have Empty Hearts, Our Kids have Empty Plates – PROTEST

Maggie stole OUR milk, now they want to steal our kids free school dinners. Merry Christmas from The Tory Party! Empty plate protest outside
Maggie stole OUR milk, now they want to steal our kids free school dinners. Merry Christmas from The Tory Party!

If you can attend please do so outside the offices of Chris Green MP (Bolton West) and Mark Logan MP (Bolton North East) at 9:00am Friday 30th October. Their addresses are listed above.

Don’t forget to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

If you’re unable to attend, please either:

Take a photo of yourself holding a plate with a message about FSM, or, make a video of yourself holding a plate with a message saying why you support our campaign for FSM during the half term and Xmas breaks.

The photos and videos will appear on our website:

Here’s a photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury

Photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury.

Struggling with your Energy Bills?

Here’s some advice from WHICH to help you with your energy bills

NOTE: Energy suppliers are prevented from disconnecting your energy during lockdown, regardless of your ability to pay your energy bills.  If you find yourself unable to afford your bills, contact your supplier, rather than just cancelling your direct debit. You should be able to work out a plan that could include your bill payments and/or debt payments being reassessed, reduced or paused, though exact policies vary between suppliers.

To find out more visit: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/cutting-your-energy-bills/article/how-to-save-on-your-energy-bill/help-if-you-re-struggling-to-pay-your-energy-bill-aXsId8V8dMv4 – Which?

Jobs Support Scheme – Sunak Must Do Better!

Rishi Sunak has released his Job Support Scheme and upon scrutiny he must do Better

What is the Job Support Scheme? 

  • The Job Support Scheme will run for six months from 1 November.
  • It will top up salaries in companies which can’t take employees back full-time.
  • To be eligible, employees must work for at least one-third of their normal contracted hours.
  • For the hours not worked, the government and employer will each pay one-third of the remaining wages. This means the employee would get at least 77% of their pay. 

What other jobs help is on offer?

To minimise unemployment, the UK government will also give firms:

  • £1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January
  • £1,500 for every out-of-work 16-24 year-old given a ”high quality” six-month work placement
  • £2,000 for every under-25 apprentice taken on until the end of January, or £1,500 for over-25s

But will it incentivise businesses to keep employees in work?

In an example where the employer has 3 staff, the demand has fallen by 2/3 those 3 staff would work 1/3 of their contracted hours but will be paid 55% of their wages by the employer, 22% by the treasury and take a hit for 23% of their wages.  So the employer gets 1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) work but pays for 1.65 FTE.

If the employer dismissed two of the staff and just had one working full time then they would pay 1 FTE.

So what then will be the considerations for the employer?

It is likely that those highly skilled workers, along with those for whom it would be expensive to dismiss in terms of redundancy pay will be kept on, but low skilled workers will lose their jobs as there is no incentive to the employer for keeping them on. 

Again we see how strongly unionised workplaces will fair better than those non unionised ones 

What alternatives are there?

One simple answer is to scrap the £7.5bn JRB (Job retention bonus) which is paid to employers who retain workers the consideration being that those workers were likely to have been kept on anyway so the £1000 payment was unnecessary and should be used to meet the shortfall in wages for those workers only working 1/3 of the time. This short hours scheme will incentivise employers to keep those staff.

In Germany the Kurzarbeit, effectively a social insurance programme, and an alternative to redundancy. Under Kurzarbeit, employers reduce their employees’ working hours instead of laying them off. But the largest portion of the workers’ lost income is picked up by the state.

Better unemployment benefit in line with the rest of Europe or better still it would seem then that both the government and the employers have accepted the fate of the retail high street to be a bad one but if, as the CEO of next argues, this is so then why are we not embarking on mass training schemes to give people skills for the future whilst these wont necessarily be building solar and wind infrastructure they could well be within the internet based retail economy.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said that his latest measures, which will replace the job retention scheme that paid 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages, will not save masses of jobs from being lost.  Dodds said the “million-dollar question” was whether the wage support scheme would fail to incentivise employers to keep workers in their jobs.  She told Radio 4’s Today programme that “unemployment levels are rising very substantially, they’re going back towards 1980s levels.”

The Resolution Foundation think tank also warned that the “winter economic package” would not help turn the tide on unemployment.  Chief executive Torsten Bell said: “Design flaws mean that the new [scheme] will not live up to its promise to significantly reduce the rise in unemployment.”  He added: “Those mistakes could be addressed by scrapping the poorly targeted £7.5 billion job retention bonus, and using those funds to ensure the new support scheme gives firms the right incentives to cut hours rather than jobs.”

Trade Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady warned there is still “unfinished business.” She said: “Unworked hours under the scheme must not be wasted.  “Ministers must work with business and unions to offer high-quality retraining, so workers are prepared for the future economy.  “The government should target help at industries facing a tough winter, and provide more support for families most at risk of hardship and debt.” 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called the measures “akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound.”  “Our members in the commercial sector, aviation and culture are already being threatened with hundreds of redundancies, as employers seek to capitalise on the economic fallout from Covid-19,” he said.  “The Tories’ ideological opposition to increased state intervention is hurting the economy and costing people their livelihoods right now.”

Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) director Dr Faiza Shaheen called the announcement “too little to late” for those who have already lost their jobs, and for the sector’s hardest hit.   She said: “What Britain needs is a real budget that sets out how departmental spending would boost a recovery, generate jobs and provide real ‘level-up’ equality. We need more vision and a real industrial strategy.”  Dr Shaheen said the Conservatives’ approach to the economy is “increasingly looking chaotic and reactionary.”

Labour MP Richard Burgon called for a more radical approach, noting that Britain was facing the worst recession in Europe because of “systemic failings.”  He called for “a united programme of demands that we coordinate the whole left around: the left in parliament, the unions, the party membership and social movements,” calling for adoption of a zero-Covid strategy and Labour to campaign for a programme of public works and the Green New Deal to “force the government to change track on health and the economy.”

Author: 

Kevin Allsop, Treasurer, Bolton TUC

Wigan workforce solid in defence of pay & conditions!

Bolton TUC members with UNISON strikers outside The Coops Building in Wigan – Friday 1st October 2020

When Addaction members were transferred from the NHS they were promised that they would retain their rates of pay, but #WeAreWithYou (the new name for Addaction) have gone back on their word. As a result, following the appropriate process in which there was a 100% turnout and unanimous vote in favour of industrial action, the workforce took their first day of strike action on Friday 23rd August 2019. They continue to remain solid having now taken a total of sixteen days of strike action on each occasion receiving the support of the local Trades Council and other local trades unionists.

Members of Unite the Union & RMT also showed their support for Friday’s socially distanced picket line.

What’s at stake?

One member of UNISON said “We will lose an average of £7,870 each during the course of Wigan Council’s contract with We Are With You, with some of us losing out on as much as £10,974.”

“This is simply wrong and across five years, will suck £230,000 out of the local economy whilst We Are With You directs funding towards costly rebrands and its London headquarters.”

“We work hard for We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh to ensure that local people recover from addiction, regaining health, self esteem and becoming fully functioning members of our society.”

“We work in this field because we care and because it’s rewarding to support recovery, but we deserve to make a decent living.”

“Supporting people to overcome drug and alcohol addiction is an incredibly tough job and makes a difference for every single one of us in Wigan.  We deserve a decent wage for doing what is an important job for our communities.”

How can you help?

Sign and share our petition: https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/we-are-with-you-don-t-break-your-pay-promises

Post messages of support on social media: please hashtag #KeepYourPayPromise and #WeAreNOTWithYou and tag @WeAreWithYou and @NorthWestUNISON.

Stop the Covid Evictions

Bolton Against COVID Evictions (BACE) was set up specifically to reduce the impact of COVID 19 on the most vulnerable members of our community.

MISSION STATEMENT

No one should lose their home because of COVID 19 arrears yet Bolton faces a bow wave of COVID related evictions. 

We aim to help people stay in their homes through providing advice and support to tenants and by demanding that the Local Authority and Landlords fulfil their obligations and remain within the law.

We seek a permanent solution that will see council houses built and managed by the local authority.

PRESS RELEASE 21-09-2020

Monday the 21st September will see us in Bolton Town centre calling for the government to do more for those who will be threatened with eviction and calling upon Bolton Council to prepare for additional renters seeking emergency housing assistance from them.

In a very short time we have seen our support grow amongst Trade Union, Community and faith groups across Bolton who share our concerns and are proud to work alongside Greater Manchester Law Centre and Greater Manchester Tenants union.

The threat of eviction for those with COVID 19 arrears

Homelessness often has lifelong consequences for people.  The social and financial costs of homelessness and resettlement are huge and will fall to our already over stretched council.

Precarious employment, zero hour contracts, a shrinking jobs market and the worst sick pay in Europe all contribute to the increasing vulnerability of renters with many people struggling with in work poverty and just one pay packet away from destitution.  Giving people longer to pay only delays the inevitable, you cant pay 24 months rent with only 22 months pay

Israel has gone into the 2nd lockdown and we in Bolton are worried about the lack of testing and how that may allow a second wave to develop under our noses making many of our community even more vulnerable.

Families who are evicted often have their work, school and access to medical care disrupted too.

In her review of the ONS analysis by local area and socio-economic deprivation Bolton Councils Consultant in Public Health Lynn Donkin concluded that “Therefore we might expect to see disproportionate impact of COVID 19″

Government approach 

In March Robert Jenrick said that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”. But the government have done little more that to kick the can down the road which gives renters little comfort and we need to see a long term solution to the housing crisis.  Firstly by the halting evictions until the end of august then giving a 11th hour reprieve pushing that date back to 21st September and more recently banning evictions for six months the government have shown a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to come to the aid of renters as they did their friends in business.

The financial cost of evictions will fall upon the public purse and we demand an fully resourced intervention.

Bolton Council 

Have not assessed the potential number of evictions

Is unprepared for the additional evictions

Will end up overstretched unless they prepare

Will foot the bill for emergency accommodation

In a response to a member of our group the lead member for the council replied that 

We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.

This is something that GM are looking at

1. We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.

Possession orders are heard in County Court, not the Magistrates, Bolton has one within the combined courts.

The authorities duties under HRA extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”

Prevention is the key here and hence our question about assessment of the problem and allocation of resources 

It is possible that a tenant does who does not have the correct advice who leaves when a landlord serves a notice could be deemed intentionally homeless and the council would claim that they therefore have not got a duty towards them

The advise is always stay put (unless a risk of harm)

2. This is something that GM are looking at

The duty falls to the council, and whilst there may be collaboration, you’d hope that there was, the duty remains with BMBC for its residents.

On its own website BMBC says

Preventing homelessness

There may be ways in which we can help to prevent you from being homeless.

If you’re having problems with any of the following, please get in touch with us:

Your landlord has asked you to leave……..

We can help you stay in your accommodation by offering:

A mediation service

Help with your money

Talking to your landlord on your behalf

Advising you of your rights and responsibilities

Support with your tenancy

Find alternative accommodation

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA) will be enacted from April 2018. … The Act places a number of new or strengthened duties on local authorities that are designed to ensure all households at risk of homelessness receive earlier and more effective interventions

The part of the HRA that we are most concerned with at this point is outlined in Policy Fact Sheet: Threatened with Homelessness clause 1, which we are most focused on extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”

Landlords

We are calling upon Greater Manchester social housing landlords to pledge never to seek possession for rent arrears on “mandatory” grounds and hence reduce the risk of unjust evictions resulting from CV19 by making one significant commitment – 

A pledge not to issue rent arrears possession proceedings on mandatory grounds.

Author:

Kevin Allsop, Treasurer, Bolton TUC

Photos and videos from the Bolton Against Covid Evictions event in Victoria Square, Monday 21st September 2020.

Maxine Support for Bolton’s Winter Hill Anniversary

Maxine Peake speaking at the launch event

Bolton Actress, Maxine Peake is supporting plans to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Britain’s biggest rights of way dispute in September this year. Plans are underway to celebrate what is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Winter Hill in 1896. In September that year, thousands of people from Halliwell and surrounding areas of Bolton, took part in huge protests in defiance of wealthy landowner, Colonel Richard Ainsworth, after he blocked off public access to the moors to host private grouse shooting parties with his friends. For many working class people in the late 19th century, a Sunday morning walk on the moors, was their only respite from the noise and pollution of the mills and factories. There was widespread anger when public access to the moors was blocked. On Sunday 6th September 1896, thousands walked from the bottom of Halliwell Road, up Smithills Dean Roan and then via Coal Pit Road onto the moors, defying Colonel Ainsworth, demanding their right to access the moors of Winter Hill. Although the dispute was unsuccessful, years later Bolton Council took ownership of much of the land on Winter Hill, helping to ensure public rights of way. The events of 1896 had largely been forgotten until the early 1980s, when Bolton writer and historian, Paul Salveson, published his book, Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’ enabling people to learn the the story of 1896 and some of the leading characters involved.

A commemorative Winter Hill walk is planned from Halliwell in Bolton to Winter Hill on Sunday 5th September 2021, and people are being encouraged to take part. Organisers hope that after the difficulties of the pandemic during the past 18 months, the walk will be an opportunity for people to enjoy local moorland and celebrate local history. Other activities are being organised in conjunction with The Woodland Trust, Bolton Ramblers, Smithills Hall Museum and others.

Maxine Peake said, “I think it is really important that we remember Bolton’s battle for Winter Hill in 1896. This was an important fight by ordinary people to access local moorland. I was only eight when I went on my first commemorative walk in 1982 with my late mum Glenys and step-grandfather Jim. There was a real sense of camaraderie. People wanted to come together and celebrate an important chapter of working class history that could so easily be forgotten. The fight for the right to roam is as important today as it was in 1896. We must keep on fighting for better access to open spaces”.

People can find out more c/o the Winter Hill 125 Facebook group.

Guardian Article.

See below:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jun/29/skylarks-sunshine-solidarity-winter-hill-lancashire-mass-trespass-west-pennines

Bolton News Article.

The article below follows a successful public meeting with Guy Shrubsole, Nick Hayes, Katrina Navickas, Maxine Peake and Paul Salveson.

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19161852.maxine-peake-helps-launch-events-celebrate-125th-anniversary-winter-hill-trespass/

Salford Star Article.

See below:

https://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=6189

UNISON North West article.

See In Touch below:

https://www.unisonnw.org/intouch_winter_2021

Acas statement on fire and rehire practices

8 June 2021

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) asked Acas to conduct an evidence gathering exercise to learn more about the use of fire and rehire practices. This has been published today and contains views from a range of participants about their experiences on the use of fire and rehire.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:

“Our findings provide valuable insight into the use of fire and rehire practices. We gathered a range of views from professional bodies with workplace expertise, including trade unions and employer organisations.

“Some of the participants told us about the business challenges of COVID-19 and how the use of fire and rehire can help reduce redundancies. Others believe that the practice is unacceptable, and that the pandemic has been used as a ‘smokescreen’ to diminish workers’ terms and conditions.

“There was also evidence that fire and rehire practices have been used for many years and predate the pandemic. We will take up the government’s request to produce further guidance that encourages good workplace practices when negotiating changes to staff contracts.”

Read the findings in ‘Dismissal and re-engagement (fire-and-rehire): a fact-finding exercise‘.

The future of flexible work

Genuine flexible working can be a win-win arrangement for both workers and employers. It can allow people to balance their work and home lives, is important in promoting equality at work and can lead to improved recruitment and retention of workers for employers.

There is a real appetite among workers for a range of flexible working options. Our research shows more than four out of five (82 per cent) workers in Britain want to work flexibly in the future, rising to 87 per cent amongst women workers. The most popular forms of flexible working desired in the future are remote working, flexi-time, and part-time work but workers would also like job sharing, annualised hours, term time only working, compressed hours and mutually-agreed predictable hours to be made available to them.  

To meet this demand from workers, we need to negotiate new rules that provide fair flexibility for everyone. 

Before the pandemic, there was deep inequality in access to genuine flexible working. Too many people in working-class occupations were closed out of genuine flexibility and instead had worse terms and conditions masquerading as ‘flexibility’ forced onto them in the form of zero-hours contracts and other forms of insecurity. This so-called ‘flexibility’ strips workers of rights and makes them face irregular hours and therefore irregular income. Work is offered at the whim of their employer and last-minute shift changes are the norm. Future flexibility must provide predictability, including regular shift patterns and notice of hours to address the damaging impacts of insecure work.

When workers try and access genuine, two-way flexibility, for example flexi-time, remote working and part-time work, three in ten of their requests for flexible working are turned down, with employers having an almost unfettered ability to do so, given the breadth of the statutory “business reasons” that can currently be used to justify a refusal[1]. The most popular form of flexibility, flexi-time is unavailable to over half (58 per cent) of the UK workforce. This number rises to nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) for people in working-class occupations[2]

The experience of the pandemic has significantly changed the landscape of flexible working. Since March 2020 all those who could work from home were expected to do so. This has brought about a popular narrative of home working being the common experience of the pandemic. All attention around flexible working is focused on the needs and experience of the third of the workforce who worked from home during the pandemic. Those who have worked from home are more likely to be in higher paid occupations and from London and the Southeast[3]. However, over half of the workforce continued to work outside the home. These workers have not been able to access the flexibility available to home workers. With the exception of home working, all forms of flexible working have fallen over the past year, meaning that has been even harder than before for these workers to access flexible working arrangements[4].   

As we exit the pandemic there is a real risk of a class and geographical divide being created between the flexible working haves and have nots. A recent survey of employers suggests that employers are more likely to not offer flexible work to staff who could not work from home during the pandemic. One in six (16 per cent) of employers surveyed said that after the pandemic, they will not offer flexible working opportunities to staff who could not work from home during the pandemic. This compares to one in sixteen (6 per cent) saying they will not offer flexible working opportunities to those who did work from home in the pandemic.

We cannot allow flexible working to become a perk for the favoured few – offered to a minority of the workforce who are able to work from home – and serving to reinforce existing inequalities.  

As well as ensuring that there is fair access to flexible working, we need to make sure that flexible working benefits workers, helping them balance their work and home lives.

Demand for remote working has been transformed by the experiences of enforced home working during the pandemic. More than nine out of ten (91 per cent) of those who worked from home during the pandemic want to spend at least some of the time working remotely, with only one in 25 (4 per cent) preferring to work from an external workplace full time.

We need to ensure that as businesses respond to this demand, new flexibilities are implemented fairly, and address the challenges as well as opportunities of this form of work. Steps need to be taken to ensure that, after the pandemic, the experience of those working from home does not mirror the damaging one sided ‘flexibility’ experienced by so many on zero-hours contracts, with arrangements imposed that only benefit employers. Increased access to remote working must not come at the price of reductions to workers pay, increased intrusive remote surveillance, unsafe working environments, lack of access to union representatives, an increase in unpaid hours worked and draining, always-on cultures. No worker should denied the ability to return to working from an external workplace and be forced to work from home as the result of money saving office closures.  

We believe trade unions are best placed to work with employers to ensure competing demands are reconciled and workers needs met. These include responding to the organisational challenges that new forms of flexibility can impose, including responding to production cycles and public demand for services. Trade unions have long experience of negotiating collective solutions to these problems that balance workers’ and business needs.

The government must set out a strategy on the future of flexible work and its integral role in shaping a better and more equal recovery for workers following the pandemic. This should include how they aim to respond to the impacts that increased remote working may have on transport, retail, hospitality and other sectors potentially affected by decreased office working in city centres. Increased levels of remote working could have substantial adverse effects for other workers in these sectors.  The government’s strategy must include steps to ensure that the jobs of those who may be impacted by lower levels of office-based working are not threatened.

There is widespread recognition of the fact that the current legislative framework in relation to flexible working wasn’t working effectively before the pandemic. The government itself has highlighted the need for change in its 2019 manifesto commitment to make flexible working the default. We need the government to act without delay to introduce their long-promised Employment Bill and strengthen workers’ rights in a range of areas to make sure we have a system of genuine flexible working that works for all workers.   


[1] https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-10/BEISFlexibleworking.pdf

[2] https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-10/BEISFlexibleworking.pdf

[3]https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/homeworkinghoursrewardsandopportunitiesintheuk2011to2020/2021-04-19#characteristics-and-location-of-homeworkers

[4] https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/flexible-working-impact-covid

Workers’ experiences of long Covid

In every sphere of life across the UK for over a year the impacts of Covid-19 have been massive. However, as we edge nearer the date where the final level of government restrictions will be lifted there are indications that Covid-19 could have a far longer effect. As well as the economic impact of the pandemic which will be felt for years to come, evidence is showing that long Covid is affecting increasing numbers of people. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that in May 2021 around one million people in the UK were affected by Covid- 19 symptoms that lasted longer than four weeks. Nearly two-thirds of these people reported experiencing a negative impact on their day-to-day activities. People of working age are among the groups most likely to be affected.

There has rightfully been increasing attention on long Covid and the impact that it is having on people’s lives but very little of this discussion to date has focused on the workplace. We, therefore, conducted an online survey to better understand workers’ experiences and make evidence-based recommendations. Over 3,500 people who had had Covid-19 responded: around 3,300 of whom self-reported having long Covid.  The majority of these were key workers (79 per cent); people who faced higher levels of exposure to Covid-19 while keeping the country running during the pandemic. 

Almost three in 10 respondents (29 per cent) had been experiencing long Covid symptoms for 12 months or more. This length of time is significant because in order to be protected under the disability provisions of the Equality Act 2010, a person has to have a condition that has a substantial and long-term impact on their ability to do normal day-to-day activities. Long term is usually taken to mean 12 months or more. Disabled people are protected by the Equality Act from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Employers also have a duty to take steps to make sure that disabled people can access jobs as easily as non-disabled people: known as the duty to make reasonable adjustments. Reasonable adjustments can include flexible working arrangements, longer rest breaks, specialist software or equipment. It is clear from our findings that workers with long Covid urgently need this protection, whether they have had symptoms for 12 months or not.

Workers reported experiencing a range of symptoms. On average each respondent reported having nine of the 21 long Covid symptoms we asked about and described the severity of their cumulative impact.  Nine out of ten respondents experienced fatigue, with other common symptoms centred around problems with brain fog (72 per cent), shortness of breath (70 per cent), difficulty concentrating (62 per cent) and memory problems (54 per cent). Over four in five respondents (83 per cent) reported experiencing at least one of a range of pain-related symptoms with around one third (32 per cent) experiencing depression.

Respondents also described the poor treatment that they experienced at work because they had long Covid. Over half (52 per cent) had experienced some form of discrimination or disadvantage. Workers were faced with disbelief and suspicion, with around one fifth (19 per cent) having their employer question the impact of their symptoms and one in eight (13 per cent) facing questions from their employer about whether they had long Covid at all. Respondents were also concerned about what the future might hold for them at work given the amount of sick leave they had been forced to take due to their long Covid symptoms. For around one in six respondents (18 per cent), the amount of sick leave they had taken had triggered absence management or HR processes and one in 11 respondents (9 per cent) had used up all of their sick leave and had been told there would be negative consequences if they took more. One in 20 respondents (5 per cent) had been forced out of their jobs because they had long Covid. 

Trade unions have worked throughout the pandemic to keep workplaces safe and protect workers. We have challenged employers and the government over inadequate sick pay that makes it difficult for low paid workers to self-isolate, failures to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing, and the urgent need for investment in safety regulation and enforcement.

Unions have played a major part in keeping workers who have contracted Covid-19 at home and not in the workplace and protecting those at higher risk. Thousands of union health and safety reps have spent more hours each week carrying out their role compared to previous years, some doing so in their own time. Unions have also worked to recruit and train more safety reps, with approximately 110,000 now in workplaces across Britain.

It is clear from our findings that too many workers have been and continue to be failed by their employers. Several workers described contracting Covid-19 at work, with some expressing the anger they felt at the inadequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and lack of attention to other safety measures which they felt had led to transmission. The fact that they now face negative treatment from the same employers because of their long Covid symptoms, adds another layer of injustice to their experience.

A public inquiry is urgently needed to ensure that we never repeat the failures that shaped the experience of frontline workers during the pandemic. This must include examination of the experiences of workers with long Covid. A recommendation by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council on Covid-19 prescription is also expected: this recognition could provide workers with financial support and assistance in pursuing claims.

Covid-19 has exposed huge inequalities in the world of work. However, if we do not take steps now to ensure that workers with long Covid are properly protected, we run the very real risk of new, long lasting inequalities being created.

Download full report (pdf)

Graham Walmsley, Husband, Father, Trade Unionist & Friend

Graham Walmsley, UNISON Bolton Branch Chair, Bolton College Convenor, and friend has suddenly passed away.

Graham collapsed without warning on the evening of Saturday 5th of June, he was taken by ambulance to hospital where, after a short battle to keep him with us passed away at 6.30am on Sunday morning 6th with his wife Steph’ and daughter Leanne by his side. Graham and Steph’ had just recently celebrated 38 years together. He was also proud to coach his daughters football team! 

It has left activists in the branch, completely shocked and devastated.

Graham has been a lifelong union member, his membership in Unison commenced via the merger of Nalgo, NUPE and CoHSE in 1993

Graham worked at Bolton College and was the branches most senior activist at Bolton College and Bolton University making a formidable team with the stewards there Becky Davidson, Rachel Web and Nicki Ainsworth. They have campaigned and lobbied on local and national issues. Graham was the key link in negotiations with the Bolton University merger.

He has held various elected positions in the FE and HE Sector regionally and nationally.  

Graham recently became the Branch Chair, a move from being the Vice Chair. Graham prepared meticulously for meetings, researching and cross checking anything he was unsure about.  He was, a true professional.

Graham represented Bolton Unison branch as a delegate to Bolton Trades Council and to various conferences often speaking at conference on behalf of our members on pay, service conditions and pensions. He was due to attend Unison National Conference on the 15th June as part of the branch’s delegation.

For Graham socialism wasn’t just a word it was how he lived his life day in and day out. He was a loyal trade unionist and passionate about Further Education and the betterment of young people. UNISON has lost one of its finest activists. We are proud to have had him in our branch, and prouder to call him a friend.

You were my mentor, and guide. Helping so many people, with a wealth of knowledge – you leave a void in my life – Becky Davidson, Bolton College Steward, Fellow colleague, and friend.

My Conference buddy! We’d burn the oil both ends; those speeches don’t write themselves!! – Jayne Clarke, Assistant Branch Secretary

A life cut short in his prime. Our movement has lost one of the best – Bernie Gallagher, Ex Branch Secretary

A chair’s role is challenging, you have to get the balance of keeping everyone in order AND everyone happy! You did it with such ease. You will be so deeply missed. Our hearts are truly broken.  Comrade your shift is over, Rest In Peace – Andrea Egan, Branch Secretary

It has been agreed with Steph’, that the branch banner, activists and members will line the route to his final resting place. We will let you have the details when they are confirmed.

No Justice, No Peace 14th June

On the 4th anniversary of the Grenfell fire which killed 72 people we bring together 4 campaigns denied justice for too long to demand justice

Book your place now

Hillsborough Justice Campaign

Sheila Coleman currently works for Unite the Union where she is the North West Region Community Coordinator. 

Sheila acts as spokesperson for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign having researched and campaigned,since 1989, all aspects surrounding the killing of ninety six Liverpool supporters and the subsequent cover up. She has a particular interest in encouraging different social justice campaigns to find common ground and work collaboratively in order to secure truth and accountability.

A former academic, she continues to guest lecture on Miscarriages of Justice and State Corruption.

Shrewsbury 24 Campaign

Terry Renshaw was one of 24 men arrested and charged with over 200 offences including unlawful assembly, affray, intimidation and conspiracy to intimidate, five months after the ending of a bitter strike in the 1970’s.

Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign

MIKE JACKSON is one of the key activists in the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign,  regularly representing the OTJC at meetings, rallies and events. He is one of the founder members of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners set up in the 84/5 miners’ strike and recently portrayed in the film Pride. LGSM campaigned and raised money to support miners and their families. He also campaigns and fundraises to honour the memory of LGSM co-founder Mark Ashton. Mike along with many of LGSM now work to support the OTJC and other political campaigns and to ensure the LGBTQ+ community and the labour movement work together. 

Joe Delaney is a member of the Grenfell Action Group (GAG), which played a central role over many years in campaigning for residents’ right to decent, safe housing. The group highlighted the great dangers to the safety of Grenfell Tower’s residents as a result of the callous indifference by the authorities, including during the 2016 refurbishment in which the entire building was surrounded in highly flammable cladding

Book your place now

Chair of Police Chiefs, Martin Hewitt, gave evidence to a parliamentary cmte scrutinising the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Police Chiefs believe that more legal pitches are necessary for travellers