On New Year’s Day today (January 1), UniteLive highlights our most read articles of 2020 — and what a year it’s been. From holding bad employers to account, to likewise calling out the government when it’s taken a wrong turn, to highlighting the many heroes in this crisis, we present you the most popular articles of the year.
In August, the government announced plans to axe Public Health England (PHE) and replace the body with a new agency.
PHE is now to be merged with NHS Test and Trace into a new organisation called the National Institute for Health Protection, and will be tasked with preventing future outbreaks of infectious diseases like coronavirus.
UniteLIVE highlighted how Tory peer and failed businesswomen Baroness Dido Harding was installed as interim leader of the new public health body in a shameless act of Tory nepotism.
Back in April, Unite executive officer Sharon Graham explained in this excellent comment piece why workers cannot be made to pay the price for the coronavirus crisis in the same way they paid for the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
In this feature from March, we heard from Unite rep and black cab driver Jim Kelly, who told UniteLive of the difficulties taxi drivers have faced during the pandemic and their strong desire to help others.
Back in June, UniteLIVE highlighted how aerospace firm SPS Technologies was planning more than 420 redundancies and reductions to pay grades, sick pay, paid breaks, shift premiums and other terms and conditions for those staff who remain.
Members were balloted for strike action this month.
On May Day this year, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey sent a message of solidarity for all workers.
Unite reiterated its call in September for the government to extend the furlough scheme which was slated to close on October 31 – or else risk opening job loss ‘floodgates’. Eventually, the government listened to Unite’s calls – the furlough scheme has now been extended through April 2021.
In another comment piece for Unite executive officer Sharon Graham, Sharon explains how the union is supporting its members through its organising efforts.
From the very beginning of the pandemic, Unite called on greater protections for bus workers, who were among the most at risk from contracting and dying from coronavirus.
In this story from April, Unite demanded immediate health and safety changes for bus workers. Over the last few months, Unite secured many of these changes, including regular cleaning of buses, the installation of screens and barriers and making mask-wearing on buses mandatory.
Back in April, UniteLIVE highlighted health visitors and other community nurses who’ve been on the very frontline in the pandemic.
Back in April, when British Airways first threatened to sack thousands of staff and fire and rehire the rest of the workforce on inferior contracts with massive cuts in pay, BA worker and Unite member wrote a heartbreaking letter to their MP — in our most read article of the year.
Since this worker’s letter, Unite has reached agreement with British Airways in most sections of the company where it represents workers to mitigate its proposals to slash workers’ wages – with the exception of BA cargo workers, who are now undertaking strike action.
By Hajera Blagg