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Day in, day out, GMB never stops fighting for our members

09 Apr 2020

GMB General Secretary Tim Roache writes on what our union has been working on over the last week to help our members

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Heading into Easter weekend in ‘lockdown’ is definitely different. I’m torn between being glad to see the sun and worrying how many people will see the sun and decide to ignore social distancing.

As hard as it is everyone, please do stick to the rules, it’s absolutely rubbish having to do it but needs must.

Because the real horror of what is happening on the front line is becoming apparent each and every day. In GMB Scotland this week we lost Franny McNeill, one of our brilliant activists.

It’s a painful loss that we all feel so personally and in the back of our minds we can’t help but worry that we’re going to lose more people as the crisis deepens. GMB has been shouting from the rooftops about the lack of PPE. It’s heartbreaking to see the impact.

We’ve made headlines this week highlighting the reality: ambulances and the NHS; care homes; and Bakkavor (a food production company where workers were being bullied into working in unsafe situations). Behind every headline, that helps us to make the case, there are real people.

GMB Scotland won improved PPE for care workers in Scotland – those wins are why we keep fighting, because we know we can make a difference.

PPE is a huge focus for us. Rehana Azam, National Secretary for Public Services and Carl Parker our acting Head of Strategy and Development have worked tirelessly to pull a new PPE toolkit together for the frontline – it is a one stop shop which helps reps understand what employers should be doing and how we can challenge where the right measures are not in place. It’s available for reps and members on our website – a great stat about our website while we’re on this subject is that we’ve had over half a million hits just this month, that’s an incredible number.

These wins are why we keep fighting, because we know we can make a difference."

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary 

We’ve invested a lot in our digital strategy to make our website a hub of activity, information and resources for members and reps. I hope you’ll join me in saying a big ‘thank you’ to our Communications team who are working around the clock.

In the private sector, we’re continuing to build a picture of where members are furloughed to make sure we can take on employers who do not want to pay full wages (some want to pay only the 80% support provided by the government) – make sure you’ve filled in our survey if you’re a furloughed GMB worker.

Alongside working with employers to get job support funding released asap, I signed a letter to the government on that very subject on Wednesday after a lot of hard work from our National Officer Nadine Houghton. We’re still working hard on putting systems and processes in place to run the union when no one can physically be in the office.

You may have seen quite a few surveys flying around, one of the big reasons for that is that our officers can’t attend workplaces and many reps are furloughed, so the best way for us to find out exactly what the state of play is, quite simply, is to ask. So far, in the last month, we’ve had thousands of members let us know about PPE.

Coronavirus advice

The advice around coronavirus (COVID-19) is constantly changing, take a look at our briefing for the latest advice from your union.

Coronavirus advice

As hard as it is everyone, please do stick to the rules, it’s absolutely rubbish having to do it but needs must.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary 

You’ve told us about safety in workplaces that have remained open and where employers haven’t been paying furloughed workers full pay. In the next week we’ll be contacting care workers and outsourced NHS employees to find out exactly what is at the top of their agenda. Every story shared by members is read by the team.

We look for trends in regions with employers and sectors. We turn those experiences into media stories to try and convince politicians to take action and we share your real-life experiences directly with Government Ministers on a weekly basis to make sure your reality is at the heart of government.

Thank you to the tens of thousands of you who have shared what’s happening and have encouraged others to do so too.

Outside of our industrial priorities, I was glad to welcome Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner as Leader and Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party on Saturday – I know they’ll do a great job for GMB members and they have my full support.

If you’re able to spend time with your family this weekend, enjoy every minute. For those who can’t or those who will be working, we’re with you all the way.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary

 
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