Government must compel employers to provide full sick pay for workers forced to self-isolate in order to safeguard public health and the NHS
Unite is seeking legislation for roving trade union health and safety reps to ensure that workers in smaller and non-unionised workplaces are protected
Highlighting statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which showed those working in hospitality faced mortality rates multiple times those of average workers, Unite hospitality organiser Neil Moore, said:
“The latest figures provided by the ONS for England and Wales confirm fears among many hospitality workers locally that they face a much higher risk from the Covid-19 pandemic than many other types of worker.
“The average Covid-19 death rate for all occupations is 24 deaths per 100,000; the comparative figures for Chefs is more than four times higher at 103, Restaurant workers is almost five times higher 119, and the death rate among Pub Managers is an incredible eight times higher at 219. These statistics are a sickening confirmation of the risks faced by hospitality workers. They are all the more concerning as, by comparison to other sections of the workforce, most workers in this sector tend to be young and with low levels of illness or clinical vulnerabilities.
“The scale of this divergence can only be explained by the failure of bosses and owners to take the action needed to protect hospitality workers. They also reflect the failure of Ministers in Westminster and locally in Stormont to provide meaningful protection to hospitality workers. Government has refused to make mandatory a full sick pay entitlement to all those who need to self-isolate or to tackle the precarity of employment leaving many workers with no choice but to work in unsafe conditions. They facilitated reopening before it was safe and without any requirement to secure workers’ agreement. We’ve witnessed unscrupulous employers consistently breaching COVID Health and Safety guidelines when lockdowns were lifted; most recently over Christmas.
“In light of the expected government announcement on quarantine hotels – employers must be forced to tighten up on Health and Safety and workplace infection control measures. Hospitality staff expected to work in such environments must be prioritised for vaccination. There needs to be a wider commitment to facilitate ‘roving’ union health and safety reps and to legislate them real powers to ensure workers’ safety in smaller and non-unionised workplaces, to protect the wider public health and the NHS.
“When a chef is more than five times as likely to die from Covid than a corporate director; something needs to be done. For our part, Unite the union has launched the ‘Make My Workplace Safe’ campaign which allows workers to report health and safety breaches and to take action collectively with their colleagues to make their workplace safer. In the absence of action by government on unscrupulous bosses, workers’ only defence is to organise collectively through a trade union like Unite”, Mr Moore concluded.