The latest figures on employment and pay, published today by the ONS, which include new experimental data on the number of paid employees shows a sharp decrease of 450,000 between March and April 2020, and a sharp fall in pay.

Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady says:

“These figures are alarming – but unsurprising.  It’s clear we need a solid economic plan for recovery.  Extending the job retention scheme was the right first step.  We need a job guarantee scheme to stop long-term unemployment, and a plan that puts full employment on decent wages and fair terms at its heart.”


The TUC are running ‘Find a Union’ help for non-unionised staff.  Hundreds have already used it.  Give it a go now if you’re not already a union member, or tell your friends and colleagues to click  here










Photo by Liam Martens on Unsplash

TUC: Job guarantee scheme essential for recovery


New TUC report sets out plans for a scheme to avoid high unemployment and to benefit Britain’s communities

The TUC is today (Monday) calling on the government to provide a Job Guarantee Scheme as part of the national recovery plan for the economy and people’s living standards.

In a new report, the TUC outlines the details of a scheme that would help prevent the pandemic being followed by a major unemployment crisis and prolonged recession.

It would have similarities to the Future Jobs Fund, which was part of the national recovery plan following the recession in 2008 caused by the private banking crisis. A government evaluation found a net benefit of more than £7,000 per participant.

The jobs created by the scheme would have to meet key requirements:

  • Additional jobs that would not otherwise be created by employers
  • Benefit the UK and its communities, such as helping to decarbonise the economy
  • Secure contracts of at least 6 months
  • Wages that pay at least the real Living Wage
  • Training opportunities to help people move into longer-term work
  • Guaranteed access to trade union representation


UNITE the Union news

UNITE members’ initiative at Nissan’s Sunderland plant – 

workers make life-saving Proper Protective Equipment for front-line workers.






The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) demand recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease

<— Printable poster 

The IUF joins with our sister international union organizations in calling for speedy official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease by governments and national health and safety bodies. Official recognition of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 as a preventable occupational hazard, and work-related COVID-19 as a work-related disease, would require employers to take necessary measures to protect workers against the risk of exposure, establish liability for failure and provide compensation to workers and their families sickened and killed by COVID-19.

A short policy brief  explains how and why this recognition is needed to protect workers, their families and their communities.


Read more here


(April 2020)

People will have heard of more deaths in the private care sector in Newcastle today.

For info, much of the adult care (care homes and home care) is commissioned by councils not NHS – though sometimes a combination.

Most of this provision is made by private sector low waged workers, who are employed without the full set of employment rights enjoyed by most workers, i.e. no sickness leave rights, and this is reflected in the the sector having traditionally low union membership.

UNISON Newcastle City Council branch on Tuesday (21 April 2020) wrote to the Director of Adult Care, calling on them to follow Salford in telling all commissioned services to pay full pay for isolation and  COVID-19 sickness.  As yet, we’ve had no response.

Please consider raising in your Labour branch, and lobbying Northumberland County Council to do this.

Please see the blog in full here:

This could save lives and prepare ground to challenge the government to take care back in-house.

F r o m   t h e   T U C

TUC demands that “no-one should have to return to work without “tough new measures” on safety

(27 Apr 2020)

  • TUC demands that all employers produce risk assessments before lockdown is eased 
  • New measures needed to give workers confidence as polling shows 2 in 5 workers are concerned about returning to work 
  • “Too many workers have already been forced to put their health on the line,” says union boss 

See article here

‘Grotesque failure of planning on PPE’, says TUC

  • Shortages of PPE show lack of planning and preparedness, says union body  
  • More than 80 health and social care workers have died of Covid-19   

The TUC has today (21 April 2020) called on the government to set up a public inquiry into the “grotesque” failure to provide frontline workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

read more here

Extension to job and pay protection welcome news for working families, says TUC

(17 April 2020)

"There is no reason to make any staff redundant." 

Public sector workers are for life, not just for a crisis

“Critical lack” of PPE and testing has allowed coronavirus to sweep through the care sector – ADASS and unions warn

(16 April 20)

Social care providers and unions have today (Thursday) warned that a “critical lack” of protective equipment and testing has allowed coronavirus to “sweep through” social care.    In a joint statement – signed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, UNISON, Unite, GMB and TUC – ministers are told that care workers and residents are still being exposed to unnecessary risk.

Read full TUC statement here

Bulletins from the TUC

Covid-19 Guidance for Reps

(3 April 2020)

TUC calls for “emergency” boost to Universal Credit to help people through coronavirus outbreak

(6 April 2020)

Frances O’Grady: TUC calls for global response to unemployment during coronavirus outbreak

(7 April 2020)

F r o m   t h e   u n i o n s




The Chair of Tynedale GMB General Branch is a rep in a local company who’s currently still working with the company management to protect members and their jobs. He says that his company are most “helpful” on areas of shared interest, and have allowed him all the time necessary to assess and help implement measures to safeguard workers.

He managed to secure a furlough for those who were defined by the NHS as ‘extremely vulnerable’ by letters sent out recently.  The workers were, however, required to produce these letters or doctors’ notes, verifying that they’d need time off to ‘shield’ at home.

The rep also requested ‘furlough’ for workers living with those advised by the government to ‘shield in the home’, but this was refused.

It’s difficult to understand the rationale in this response.  NHS advice during this crisis is that those living with people defined as ‘vulnerable’, are themselves vulnerable, and by continuing to go to work, they are further endangering those at home.  However, current government guidelines make no provision for those co-habiting with highly vulnerable people, to entitle them to stay off work.

He also added, that in his view

‘the government letters on NHS shielding’ have been “woefully slow” in coming, meaning that these workers had been exposed to increased risk of contracting the virus by continuing to come to work when they should have been safe at home.  Some letters had only arrived this week, even though the government had committed doing this around six weeks ago.

Further government workplace advice was issued earlier in the week, allowing management to grant time off from work.  Management are working through the guidelines, ensuring all recommendations are in place.  Due to the close working relationship of management and the union reps since the pandemic began, there were only a few minor changes to make.

Union reps and management have also been holding daily briefs, and question and answer sessions with employees to keep communication channels open.  Staff are regularly updated, and able to ask any questions and make recommendations to make the workplace safer.  This has worked well, helping people to feel safer at work, and employees’ ideas have been acted on to make the site safer for everyone.

He went on to say: ‘my primary concern in these difficult times is to ensure that our members coming to work are as safe as they can be, those off work are treated fairly and not needlessly driven into financial hardship when there is provision to help them through furloughing; and finally to try to keep our site open and economically viable to safeguard our jobs when this crisis is over’.



UNITE Health and Safety Rep at Egger, Hexham said that in his opinion his “employer is doing all they can” to protect the staff.

He told us that:

Egger is ‘using the government scheme to pay 80% of wages, have said they’ll add 20% to top this up to full wages, in a scheme where this would be exchanged at a later date for time owed.  This would be paid back through overtime at a rate of time and a half’.

They are also paying the first two weeks of furlough at 100%, through their own payroll.



A member of the Fire Brigade Union reports that they are currently working on Risk Assessments in preparation to use volunteers who’ve elected to aid the NHS in driving ambulances and delivering medication.