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31 Mar 2020

Mohamed Elmaazi, Sputnik International (Russia)

UK: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain to sue the government for not supporting precarious workers over COVID-19

"UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over 'Failure' to Provide COVID-19 Support for Precarious Workers", 24 March 2020

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has announced that it will be taking legal action against the UK government over its COVID-19 economic support measures which - they argue - "discriminate" against, and fail to provide proper support for, self-employed workers, women, minority groups, and those in the "gig economy".​.

...Boris Johnson's government announced that it will provide £25,000 cash grants for small businesses, pay employees' wages up to 80% (up to £2,500 a month), "so someone can be furloughed rather than laid off", defer tax collections, and abolish business rates for the hospitality, retail, and leisure sectors for one year...

...But most of the COVID-19-related economic measures, including the wage subsidies, don't assist self-employed or precarious workers...

...The IWGB says that the current policies are therefore "not only discriminatory" and "risk driving millions of workers into deeper poverty", but also pose a serious threat to public health. This is because many self-employed workers, "are forced to continue working while sick or while they should be self-isolating in order to survive"...

​..."The government's measures would leave five million self-employed and gig economy workers with just £94.25 a week sick pay", Corbyn wrote in a tweet on 23 March 2020. "This is simply not enough. Those without a fixed wage must not be left to suffer", he added.

The IWGB launched a crowdfunder to raise £8,000 to protect itself should they lose their suit against the government and the court awards costs be against them.