CORONAVIRUS FACT: Union members fare better on pay and job security

 Sheffield TUC says the lesson is clear: “every worker should join a trade union”

Sheffield Trade Unions are reaching out to help non-union workers via our SHEFFIELD NEEDS A PAY RISE!  campaign

 “Workers in trade union-organised workplaces are much more likely to keep their jobs during the Coronavirus outbreak, and if laid off are more likely be kept on 100% pay” says Martin Mayer Secretary of Sheffield TUC. A recent video conference held with union branches in Sheffield found very few examples of problems with pay and job security. “We know the opposite is the case for many non-union workers, especially in Sheffield’s low wage economy” said Martin, “and we are doing our best to help them”.

There are still problems in many workplaces

“Having a strong union to represent the workers and negotiate with the boss has direct benefits for workers, especially during a crisis like this Coronavirus epidemic. But problems still exist” says Martin Mayer. Some of the problems being faced are:

  • Lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for those workers dealing with the public. We’ve all heard about the shortage of PPE for NHS workers, but the same problems or worse are facing firefighters and other emergency services, care workers especially those working with frail or elderly people and other frontline staff
  • Health and safety procedures. In unionised workplaces, health and safety is normally a jointly negotiated exercise. However, in the current crisis, some employers have taken unilateral steps without agreement, or have failed to implement proper safety measures. This may range from lack of hand sanitizers to a failure to arrange work so that employees are always 2 metres apart.
  • Definition of key worker. Some employers are demanding workers still come into work claiming they are “key workers”. Such workers fear the consequences if they refuse, but then find the school won’t take their children because they are not defined as a “key worker”.
  • Self-employed workers, even if they are in a union, are facing difficult times. Musicians Union reports that many of their members are self-employed working in bars and entertainment venues and now have no income to fall back on. However, the union has set up a hardship fund and is in direct contact with the Government lobbying for cash aid for self-employed workers
  • Casual workers are still fighting for job security during this crisis. UNITE at University of Sheffield is fighting hard to secure income and job security for casual staff performing various roles e.g. catering.

We are trying to reach out to low-paid non-union workers

Hundreds of workers have been contacted by our SHEFFIELD NEEDS A PAY RISE! Campaign in pubs, fast food outlets and retail in the last few weeks – in the city centre, Hillsborough, Crystal Peaks and Meadowhall. We’ve helped workers laid off get taken back on on 80% pay. We’ve helped workers raise health and safety demands with their bosses and get guarantees of job security. Some examples:

  • Weatherspoon’s announced a few days ago all their workers would lose their jobs. Working with the Bakers Union BFAWU, SHEFFIELD NEEDS A PAY RISE! has helped Weatherspoon’s workers in Sheffield to get organised and fight back. A national response from thousands of workers was coordinated.  Weatherspoon’s yesterday did a complete U-turn and took all workers back on
  • Mitchell and Butler pubs in the city laid off their workers with no pay. A collective fight back by workers in their Sheffield pubs, helped and assisted by SHEFFIELD NEEDS A PAY RISE! reversed this decision and even won a guarantee on job security.
  • Leaflets have been handed out to workers giving advice with a number to ring and reasons why you should join a trade union

“We are extremely proud of the work done by our Sheffield Union Organiser Rohan Kon and her cohort of volunteer “canvassers” in our SHEFFIELD NEEDS A PAY RISE! Campaign” said Martin Mayer. “All workers are facing difficulties and anxieties at this difficult time, but trade unionists know that we have to reach out and help workers who are not in union. Workers have to stick together – it’s called solidarity!” he said.

Sheffield TUC says the lesson is clear: “every worker should join a trade union”


Editors: please contact Martin Mayer on 0776 1078482 for more information