Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“The pandemic changed our lives in ways we would never have believed possible. At every step of the way Usdaw was there to support members and our reps played an absolutely vital role in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.
“Conducting risk assessments and delivering appropriate safety measures, ensuring ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ workers did not lose pay while they were unable to attend the workplace and dealing with appalling increases in customer abuse, Usdaw reps have been nothing short of extraordinary while all the time dealing with their own anxieties and challenges. Along with a focus on health and safety, Usdaw negotiated extra pay and bonuses for staff in recognition of everything they had done.
“We have always known that trade unions make a real difference, but during the pandemic many more people saw the benefits of union organisation and membership. Trade unions won for workers in many ways. The furlough scheme saved millions of jobs and came out of direct discussions between the unions and Ministers, along with day one access to Statutory Sick Pay and protections for pregnant workers. Securing key worker status for the vast majority of Usdaw members meant that their incredible role was rightly recognised and parents were able to continue to access essential childcare, while they continued to go to work and keep the country going.
“As we are hopefully coming out of the crisis, the challenge is to build back better. The pandemic exposed serious flaws in how the UK economy works, showing who really keeps the country going and just how poorly paid many key workers are. It also revealed the scale and depth of existing inequality with women, disabled people and BME workers more likely to be impacted, because they are disproportionately stuck in insecure jobs on low pay.
“Usdaw believes it is time to reassess the jobs we value most and to recognise how dependent our economy and society is on them. Building back better must mean addressing the discrimination and insecurity that runs through the UK workforce. We need fair employment practices that move our economy away from its reliance on low paid and insecure jobs.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
Heart Unions’ week: www.tuc.org.uk/heartunions
14 to 20 February 2022 highlights the positive contribution that trade unions make in workplaces and across wider society.
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Usdaw’s Coronavirus portal: www.usdaw.org.uk/Help-Advice/Coronavirus-Update
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