Stormont must act urgently to enforce protections for drivers and hauliers

Unite logo white out of redStrict enforcement of Public Health Agency Covid-19 guidance needed to ensure health and safety of road hauliers

Drivers won’t become collateral damage when protections are flouted by employers more focused on profiting from the current crisis

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer called on the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce legislation to ensure strict enforcement of health and safety infection control guidance for road transport workers.

“We need to see urgent action from Ministers to secure the health and safety of road transport drivers. That must mean legislation to strictly enforce the Public Health Agency (PHA) Covid-19 guidelines on companies who employ drivers to deliver non-essential goods to domestic premises or who drive heavy goods vehicle to transport essential food supplies to stores.

“Drivers are entitled to the same protections afforded to other essential workers. They are on the front-line and our union will not allow them to become collateral damage to bosses who flout PHA guidance in order to make more profit from the current crisis”. Continue reading

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Translink workers plead with public to stay at home to leave buses and trains for key or essential workers

img_0227Despite suite of infection control protections, drivers face prospect of catching virus

Davy Thompson, Unite Deputy Regional Secretary commended the bravery of the bus and rail workers who continue to maintain public transport services at this time.

“I’m incredibly proud of our members who are keeping Northern Ireland’s buses and trains moving during the lockdown. Frontline public transport workers are risking their lives on a daily basis to provide and maintain public transport for other essential and key workers.

“Unite has negotiated with Translink management a suite of protections for staff. These include the provision of gloves, hand sanitiser, the introduction of cashless fares, additional protective coverings for security screens and the cordoning off of the front seats to ensure social distancing between drivers and passengers. The measures we have been able to secure with the publicly-owned Translink are night and day as compared to that offered by private sector operators – even where these are still continuing to operate”, Mr Thompson said. Continue reading

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Bord na Mona: ‘Essential’ workers must be protected

Unite logo white out of red2020 peat harvest must proceed to ensure security of energy supply

Emergency legislation required to obviate need for harvest planning applications

April 2nd: Unite, which represents craft and administrative grades in Bord na Mona, today (Thursday) said that the recognition that Bord na Mona workers are ‘essential’ during the COVID-19 emergency highlighted the importance of the company’s continued operation not only to workers and their communities, but to the country as a whole.

Highlighting the urgency of ensuring that the 2020 peat harvest proceeds in order to help ensure security of Ireland’s energy supply as we face into an uncertain period, Unite Regional Officer Bernard Daly said that there was an urgent need for legislation to obviate the need for repeated planning applications in order to harvest peat.

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COVID-19 and your Rights as a Worker – UPDATED 01 April 2020

Respect workersFrequently Asked Questions – Updated 01 April 2020

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency is evolving rapidly and Unite will be updating our advice as dictated by circumstances. 

The additional measures announced by the Government on Friday 27 March have resulted in further business closures, layoffs and job losses affecting many Unite members.  The measures also mean that more people are working from home in increasingly challenging circumstances.  The information below has been updated to reflect these developments.

Unite is endeavouring to maintain our service to members during this unprecedented health emergency. In order to facilitate social distancing in line with public health guidelines, our offices are now closed to public visitors until further notice.

If you require assistance, please email

Below, please find information on some questions you may have as a worker affected by the COVID-19 emergency.  We will be updating this FAQ on a rolling basis as the situation develops; the current version is based on changes announced by the Government on Friday 27 March.

As well as the general information below, please scroll down for specific Health & Safety information relating to outdoor and indoor workplaces.

A PDF of this document is available here.

Please note that this information only applies to the Republic of Ireland.

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English Language Teachers: Schools must engage with Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

Unite logo white out of redApril 1st: Unite, which represents English Language Teachers throughout Ireland, has urged employers to engage with the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to ensure that teachers are retained in employment and the sector can restart once the current COVID-19 emergency is over.  The union also warned employers not to exploit the emergency in respect of members’ terms of conditions.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Brendan Byrne said:

“Like other sectors throughout the economy, the ELT sector has effectively been closed down as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

“Unite would encourage employers to engage with the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme to retain workers on the payroll, and to top their employees’ wages up to the maximum extent possible.  Where workers were laid off as a result of the pandemic, they should be rehired as provided for under the terms of the scheme.

“Given the profitability of the sector before the pandemic, thanks to the commitment and experience of teachers, Unite would urge schools to step up to the mark, avail of this scheme, and top up their workers’ wages to their normal level of earnings where possible.  We hope that schools will engage with the scheme, and we trust that no school will exploit this emergency in respect of our members’ terms and conditions”, Brendan Byrne concluded.

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