UK: Union to take legal action against Govt. over failure to protect precarious workers during COVID-19

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Article
31 March 2020

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

Author: Mohamed Elmaazi, Sputnik International (Russia)

"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.

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Article
23 March 2020

IWGB to sue UK government over its failure to protect precarious workers

Author: Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB)

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is taking legal action against the government over its failure to protect the wages and jobs of millions of workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as its failure to ensure the health and safety of those still employed through proper sick pay.

In a letter before action being sent today, the union will argue that the current £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) arrangement discriminates against women, BAME workers and workers in the so-called “gig economy” for whom these payments are not enough to survive or in some cases not even available at all.

The union will further argue that the 80% wage subsidies offered by the government to businesses to keep people employed discriminates against “gig-economy” and other self-employed workers, who are not included in this scheme. 

The current arrangements are not only discriminatory and risk driving millions of workers into deeper poverty, but are also a major threat to public health, since many workers are forced to continue working while sick or while they should be self-isolating in order to survive.

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Article
23 March 2020

UK: Chancellor to face legal action from gig economy workers over 'discriminatory' coronavirus policy

Author: Robert Booth, The Guardian

"Rishi Sunak faces legal action from gig economy workers", 22 March 2020

Pressure is mounting on Rishi Sunak to extend his coronavirus bailout to the UK’s five million self-employed people...

On Friday, Sunak said self-employed workers could access £94.25 a week in universal credit, but he gave a far more generous deal to employees of 80% of salaries, capped at £2,500 per month...

The Independent Workers of Great Britain union says the exclusion of the self-employed from Friday’s promise amounts to discrimination and is a risk to public health. On Monday its lawyers, Leigh Day, will send a pre-action letter ahead of issuing proceedings for a high court judicial review. It also argues that the sick pay is too low for many employees...

The move comes as a survey conducted on Wednesday and Thursday showed 47% of the self-employed and 51% in “atypical” work, such as those on zero-hours contracts, would feel obliged to work even if they had the virus...

“The chancellor is going to keep reviewing the situation and see if there are further measures we can take,” [Robert Jenrick] told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

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