Last night (May 6) Unite general secretary Len McCluskey addressed members, making it clear that the union was in the very early stages of negotiating a re-opening of the economy and return to work – and that members’ safety was paramount. He writes:
You will be aware of the great media speculation surrounding our governments’ developing proposals to get the country fully back to work as we seek to take the country out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Of course, many of you have been at work throughout this crisis, serving our nations every working day, for which we thank you. Many more of you will be on furlough. Every single one of you will be anxious, I am sure, to understand what happens next.
I want to assure you that your union is at the table with governments across the UK and Ireland, and with our sister unions, on talks over what a safe and effective back to work programme looks like. Just as they have throughout this crisis, three principles will guide us through these talks and govern the judgements your officials make on your behalf: your safety; your income; and your job security.
We recognise that the task before the governments is an enormous one and that the right calls have to be made to avoid further death and ill health and to avert a deep recession. We are therefore committed to contributing fully to the back to work discussions, ensuring that ministers and employers hear your voice at the table.
‘Safe working comes first’
However, we will not be driven by any desire for a media-friendly soundbite. Your safe working comes first.
Your officers and reps will be kept informed of any developments and as soon as we can provide more information to you, we will be sure to do so.
We are in the very early stages of discussion, with much progress yet to be made before your union can be confident that the plans to re-open the economy put you, your safety and your communities first.
- If you need advice or have a query please contact your regional office through the Unite websiteor visit the Unite coronavirus information page
- Don’t forget to keep up to date with all the latest news at unitelive.org
By Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary