Covid-19 demands

Precarious workers have been on the frontlines of this crisis and the protection of their rights has been recognised as a major public health issue. They continue to play a vital role controlling the spread of the virus, whether by going out to work and providing for those most in need or making the difficult decision when sick to stay home.

We urgently need to see longer-term measures that make the protection of public health more compatible with the protection of our civil liberties. That means investment in the NHS, it means defending and extending worker rights and it means holding corporations accountable for gambling with peoples’ lives.


Our demands

As the IWGB, we have fought throughout the pandemic to ensure that our members have safe working conditions and the support they need. Faced with the current crisis, we are demanding three immediate measures:

1. Increase and extend Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The current rate of £96.35 per week is one of the lowest in Europe and nowhere near enough to support workers who become sick. SSP should be paid at the rate of normal wages and should never be less than the real living wage.

We demand sick pay that is equal to wages, accessible to all workers regardless of status.

2. Bring back furlough and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The closure of many workplaces with support for workers or the self employed will help to control the spread of Covid-19. These measures need to be made available to all those who need it, regardless of status or whether they have recourse to public funds.

We demand a return of furlough that is compulsory and indefinite and SEISS that is available to all who need it.

3. Third, enforce health and safety regulations and laws at work. Many employers failed to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to workers during the pandemic. The Office for the Department of Labour Market Enforcement has only recently appointed a chair, leaving enforcement lacking throughout the pandemic. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has only investigated 0.1% of reports it received of avoidable Covid transmissions, failing to enforce regulations that could keep workers safe.

We demand PPE and the enforcement of health and safety regulations, with a plan to urgently establish the independent watchdog for workers’ rights already promised by the government.


Adapting how we operate

The union has a sub-committee to oversee the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Get in touch at covid19subcom@iwgb.co.uk.

Branch meetings and workshops are being held online or hybrid. We have an office rota and daily testing in place to protect staff. We take steps to make sure that picket lines and protests are safe.


Supporting members

IWGB members are facing unsafe work, fire-and-rehire, a wave of redundancies and terminations from app platforms. The union has been working hard to address these issues through casework and organising.

Visit our Support and Advice page for advice or to report any work-related problems that you are experiencing.


Read more

  • Focus on Labour Exploitation worked with IWGB members to better understand the impact of the pandemic on migrant workers in low-paid and insecure work. The research found that, of the people they spoke with, 44% had wages withheld, 17% were exposed to Covid-19 through work and 8% were forced to work despite being ill. Read the report.
  • Health and safety at work has never been more important. In November 2020, the IWGB won a judicial review against the UK Government calling for health and safety protections to be extended to ‘gig economy’ and precarious workers. All workers now have the right to refuse unsafe work and the right to protective equipment.
  • Read more about how IWGB branches fought for sick pay, workplace shutdowns and a decent furlough system.


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