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Support our campaigns

The IWGB is moving quickly to respond to the crisis. We are launching a legal challenge, pushing twelve key demands and calling for volunteers to support the IWGB!

The IWGB is taking legal action against the government over its failure to protect the wages and jobs of millions of workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as its failure to ensure the health and safety of those still employed through proper sick pay.  We are represented by a team of Old Square Chambers barristers led by Ben Collins QC.

The union will argue that the current £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) arrangement discriminates against women, BAME workers and workers in the so-called “gig economy” for whom these payments are not enough to survive or in some cases not even available at all.

The current arrangements are not only discriminatory and risk driving millions of workers into deeper poverty, but are also a major threat to public health, since many workers are forced to continue working while sick or while they should be self-isolating in order to survive.

Linda Arteaga, an Ecuadorian woman cleaning London office buildings says:

“I work as a cleaner and I am a widowed single mother.  As important as it may be to self-isolate, having to live for half a month on £94.25 per week would make my life impossible.  I would have to choose between buying food for my family and following the Government’s health advice to protect the public.”

Call to action - We are trying to raise an initial amount of £8,000, with a stetch target of £20,000.  We will try to get costs protection but need to raise as much money as we can so that we have the means to fight this case even if the Government comes after us for legal costs. Your contribution will make the difference to getting this case off the ground!

What are we trying to achieve? - We have called on the Government to  immediately move to protect low-paid workers.  But unfortunately, asking is not enough. We now need the use of the law to compel them into action.

Winning this case would mean the extension of statutory sick pay and wage protection to hundreds of thousands if not millions more workers. Winning would also mean sick pay would be enough for workers to actually stay home, follow public health advice, and protect society against the further spread of the pandemic.

What is the next step in the case? - We have today (Monday 23 March) sent a letter before action to the Government. Unless they respond favourably we will be applying for permission for a judicial review next week.

How much we are raising and why? - We need to raise as much money as possible to ensure we can proceed even if the Government pursues us for legal costs. The IWGB operates on a shoe string and we are in very uncertain times.  Any unused funds will go to the IWGB Legal Department to help support low paid workers and bring similar cases.

Our key demands

We have written to the Prime Minister and the Business Secretary with these twelve demands. Sign our petition!

  1. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) should be made fit for purpose:
    a. Extend SSP to Limb B Workers;
    b. Abolish the lower earnings limit (£118 per week) to qualify for SSP;
    c. SSP entitlement should be at the rate of normal wages (for those on 0 hours contracts this is based on 12 week averages), at least for an initial period of time, and should never be less than the real living wage;
    d. A version of SSP should also be available for independent contractors, payable directly by the Government;
    e. Self-certification should be allowed for all coronavirus-related absences;
    f. Coronavirus-related absences should not count for any capability or disciplinary procedures.
  2. All businesses should be compelled to introduce social distancing measures to the extent possible (e.g. providing for working from home arrangements). Those non-essential businesses which are unable to adequately protect the health and safety of their workers should be required to temporarily shut down with workers sent home on full pay.
  3. Make it obligatory for employers to pay workers with no guaranteed hours, who would be willing and able to work but for coronavirus issues (self-isolation, reduced demand, sickness, etc.) their salary based on average rates of pay in previous 12 weeks.
  4. Worker status decisions by the tribunals and courts should be enforced immediately, including in instances where appeals by the companies are outstanding.
  5. Licensing authorities should be obliged to make the adequate provision of sick pay a condition of private hire licensing.
  6. Clients who currently outsource any facilities services such as cleaning, security, catering or portering should terminate their contracts with their private contractors and hire those workers directly as employees of the organisations or companies where they work.
  7. Workers should be entitled to paid time off, at full pay, in order to care for dependents as a result of the pandemic.
  8. High-risk workers, e.g. the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, should be entitled to full pay during the extended periods of self-isolation they will need to undertake to stay alive.
  9. Businesses looking to make coronavirus-related redundancies should be given extensive financial support from Government on the specific condition that redundancies are not made. Those workers who are made redundant notwithstanding this should be entitled to income support from the Government, at rates equivalent to their wages (and never less than the real living wage) until such time as they are able to find alternative suitable employment.
  10. Temporarily suspend all mortgage, rent and bill payments both in residential lodgings and in commercial studios for freelance artists.
  11. Government should put in place a system of financial support and subsidies, where necessary, to further enable businesses to comply with these requirements.
  12. The Health and Safety Executive should dramatically increase workplace inspections, ensuring that those businesses that remain open are upholding the strictest health and safety standards, with strong consequences for those who are not compliant.

Volunteer with the IWGB

Our reps, elected officials, organisers, legal team, paid staff, and the rest of the union are under a new level of pressure dealing with this crisis. We are being inundated with requests from members, while coordinating new branch campaigns, all in a rapidly shifting environment.

We are calling for a mass mobilisation of volunteers to help the IWGB!

It may be that you have a small amount of time or a particular skill to offer, or maybe you are self-isolating with more time to volunteer. Either way, it would make a huge difference to the IWGB and our members if you were able to assist us.

Please fill out the form and we will be in contact as soon as possible!

You can email [email protected] if you have any questions.