Heroes and zeroes

UniteLive highlights the latest ‘heroes and zeroes’ amid coronavirus epidemic

Reading time: 5 min

Every Friday here on UniteLIVE we honour the heroes of the coronavirus crisis and ‘name and shame’ the zeroes. Here are this week’s latest:


Ricky Gervais

Celebrated comedian and film and TV star Ricky Gervais is the latest in a long line of celebrities who have backed British Airways workers as they fight for their jobs.

In a recent video he posted on Twitter, Gervais said, “BA staff are brilliant. People who work hard all their lives should be rewarded for it.”

You can watch in his video below (from 4.06 mins in):

Unpaid carers

We’ve celebrated care workers before but this week Unite pays tribute to the millions of unpaid carers – parents, grandparents, adult children and even young children – who are caring behind closed doors amid the pandemic and lockdown, without the support they can normally access like respite care.

This week is Carers’ Week and the theme is Making Caring Visible. You can find out more from our two-part series on carers here and here.


Another vital group of key workers, cleaners are ensuring that our workplaces are safe. Yet they are all too often not kept safe themselves, with many employers failing to provide them with adequate PPE and failing to pay them a decent wage.

Ahead of International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Workers on June 15, Unite hears from cleaner Adriana Barragan Rodriguez.


British Airways

British Airways yet again makes it on our zeroes list – as every week Unite uncovers more of their appalling tactics in their push to slash jobs and pay on an unprecedented scale.

Throughout the crisis, BA has pleaded poverty to justify cutting thousands of jobs and firing and rehiring the rest of its workforce on worse contracts that see their pay plummet by 70 per cent.

But incredibly, this week BA’s parent company IAG is ploughing ahead with the purchase of the airline Air Europa, at a cost of over €1bn. The airline is also reportedly putting some of its renowned art collection up for sale – apparently in an attempt to raise cash – as it prepares to lay off thousands of staff. You can read more in our story here.

A Unite video explaining BA’s finances demolishes the airline’s claim that it must fire its workforce and rehire those that survive on inferior contracts:


British Gas-owned Centrica is among many big name companies who have announced major job losses this week. The energy giant said it would slash an astonishing 5,000 jobs, mostly in managerial roles, but has failed to clarify how this will effect front line workers, Unite members.

Unite regional officer Mark Pettifer said, “These job losses are another blow to the already fragile British economy and have created worrying uncertainty amongst the entire workforce.

“Following today’s conference call, there was no clarity as to how these job losses at the various management levels would affect those delivering frontline services, such as our members who provide an essential service to British gas customers’ homes across the country.

“We are demanding much greater clarity and reassurance for our members who are providing much needed services to the nation’s households.”

Government for failing to make homes safe

On Sunday (June14) it will be three years since the Grenfell Tower disaster, when 72 people died after the tower, bedecked in flammable cladding, caught on fire. Incredibly, three years on and there are still 23,000 homes covered in Grenfell-style cladding. Justice4Grenfell has urged the government to act now and has called on people to write to their MPs.

You can find out more on their website here.

Hajera Blagg

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