Tuesday 16 February 2021 - The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) demands indefinite and mandatory furlough for workers facing redundancies under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The union’s Cleaners and Facilities Branch launched the #FairFurloughNow campaign. Already 30 MPs have signed on to support this a vital lifeline for thousands of workers and families.
At 18.00 on Wednesday 17 February, the IWGB will host an online rally, featuring workers from the branch who have been affected by the failures of the furlough scheme. Speakers include Nadia Whittome MP, Lucila Granada and CEO at Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) as well as representatives from the IWGB and workers who will speak out about their experiences.
The IWGB warns that because the scheme is not being properly enforced, many workers who should have been placed on furlough have instead been forced to break lockdown and attend work in non-essential buildings such as UCL. Meanwhile, the Government’s failure to make the furlough scheme indefinite has resulted in a cycle of uncertainty and waves of avoidable mass redundancies. The union has seen two unprecedented spikes in redundancy cases linked to the delayed extension of the furlough scheme, with a third anticipated immanently unless the Government acts now. As offices remain shut, companies have already started making cleaners redundant in anticipation of the furlough scheme ending in April.
Alex Marshall, President (IWGB) says: ““The government’s failure to enforce and extend furlough isn’t just costing jobs and destroying lives - it’s putting public health at risk. We’re dealing with yet another tidal wave of cases relating to mass redundancies and the unjustifiable denial of furlough by companies who can certainly afford it. And yet again, of course, it is precarious BAME and migrant workers who are being hardest hit.”
Wilson Ayala, Cleaners and Facilities Branch Chair, said: “We are precarious workers, who are in the frontline exposing ourselves to the virus. We do not have effective and clear support from the government to face this crisis. We are largely migrant workers who perform some of the jobs that have been the most affected by the pandemic. We need the government to guarantee that our sector avoids continuing dismissals affecting workers and their livelihoods.”
Jesus Jimenez, Cleaners and Facilities Branch Secretary, said: “If the furlough is set to end only when the pandemic is under control, that transition period will be fatal for workers, and a failure on the part of the government. Maintaining furlough in an indefinite manner means guaranteeing that the scheme is not wasted. Cleaners and all precarious workers form an important part of the national economy but have been mistreated in the measures taken by the government. Everyone is essential in the fight against Covid-19.”
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Notes for editors
Founded in August of 2012, the IWGB now consists of eleven branches. The branches are highly autonomous and lead on campaigning for better pay and conditions. IWGB campaigns are known for being bold, vibrant, loud and effective. From salsa dancing on the picket lines at the University of London to flash occupations of the Tate Modern, public pressure campaigns are the main method used to improve our members’ working lives.
In addition to campaign the IWGB’s Legal Department is also highly active, providing representation on a range of employment matters such as disciplinary processes, grievances, private hire licensing, and employment tribunals. The union’s legal department has also been at the forefront of test case litigation establishing private hire drivers and couriers as limb (b) workers, entitling them to a range of employment rights denied to them by their employers.
2. Sign the Change.org petition to show your support for extension of the furlough scheme.
3. Write to your MP asking them to join our Fight For Furlough coalition via ActionNetwork.
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