Heroes and zeroes

UniteLive highlights the heroes and zeroes of the coronavirus crisis

Reading time: 5 min

Amid the greatest public health crisis since the Spanish flu in 1918, the coronavirus pandemic has in many ways shown Britain at its best – and worst.



As part of our rolling coverage on the coronavirus epidemic on UniteLive, we will be highlighting the heroes and zeroes of the crisis.



This week’s heroes include:



1. Unite member Emma Lang, formerly of Unite Community, and all the other Unite Community members and others who are volunteering to help those most in need at this time of crisis. Read our interview with Emma here.



2. Unite’s advice webpage and helpline. Unite is doing all it can to support its members, most recently with a coronavirus helpline.




3. All key workers – hundreds of thousands of whom are Unite members – who are getting us through the crisis. From health workers, to delivery drivers, shop workers, emergency responders and many more, Unite hails their hard work.


London Ambulance Service


4. Co-op and Morrison’s, who’ve both pledged to create thousands of jobs to help feed the nation and offer work to those in crisis-hit industries such as hospitality.

5. Home Bargains, which has pledged £30m to support its staff during the epidemic.


6. Gary Neville, who has handed over his hotels to be used by the NHS, while still retaining all staff on a Living Wage:



Some deserve to be named and shamed. This week’s zeroes include:



1. CEO Richard Branson and his company Virgin, who have asked staff to take 8 weeks unpaid leave as the airline recovers from the crisis – all while demanding a government bailout.

2. Britannia Hotels, which on Thursday (March 19) sacked all its workers on the spot.

3. Wetherspoons, which is still putting on an ale festival in Bristol later this month in defiance of public health guidance. Wetherspoons boss called safety measures ‘over the top’ and vowed to keep his pubs open even as the pandemic intensifies. Staff will get not support if they are off sick or must self-isolate. Pub staff are also not permitted to wear gloves or masks.


Keep in touch


If you’ve been affected by the virus and want to tell us about it then let us know. We’re especially interested if you have any positive news, especially if you’ve been helping or have been helped by others. Contact us at [email protected]


You can also visit our website page for more advice and our membership helpline for vulnerable members


Stay tuned to unitelive.org for the news as it happens


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