17 March: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) General Secretary has today written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call for emergency measures to protect gig economy workers and the public as Covid-19 continues to spread. The union says drastic improvements must be made if companies intend to operate safely during the crisis. The “gig economy” and other low-paid workers it represents now have a vital role to play in providing for those self-isolating and combating the spread of the virus, and come into contact with hundreds of people every day, making this an urgent priority for the protection of public health.
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB general secretary, says: *“In these extraordinary times, the low-paid and so-called ‘low skilled’ workers we represent are on the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis playing an absolutely vital role in controlling the spread of the virus and providing for those most in need. Unless we can protect them, we cannot protect the public. No more excuses. The government must step up immediately to meet these demands or more lives will be needlessly lost.” *
Alex Marshall, IWGB Couriers & Logistics Branch Chair and TDL courier, says: “Self isolation should not be a privilege for only those who can afford to take it. If we want to avoid spreading this virus, everyone should be able to self isolate when they feel any symptoms. The current situation could undermine all the actions of working from home and self isolation and unless everyone is able to take responsible action, everyone remains at risk.”
At present, countless “gig economy” workers nationwide are still being forced to choose between working and risking the spread of COVID-19 or being unable to pay their bills and risking homelessness. The IWGB’s demands (below), include an urgent overhaul of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provisions including full pay for those off sick, self-isolating or caring for dependents, enhanced pay for working through the lockdown, safety equipment and social distancing to protect public health.
Last week, some companies including Uber and Deliveroo announced hardship funds to provide compensation to workers forced to self-isolate. However, these funds announced by companies like Deliveroo and Uber are inaccessible to workers, as they require NHS certification which is not currently available.
Specific branches including the IWGB Couriers & Logistics, United Private Hire Drivers and University of London workers have also issued specific demands - see below.
For more information:
Press Officer, IWGB
Branches of the IWGB are also issuing sector-specific demands, those already available online are from the Couriers & Logistics branch, United Private Hire Drivers branch, and the University of London branch.
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