Pushing for better for our members

17 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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Many of us started the week with a Bank Holiday. I know that’s not the case for everyone and many of our key worker members were at work.

This week we’ve been doing a big survey of care workers and outsourced NHS workers in England and Wales. We’ve emailed or called tens of thousands of GMB care workers and outsourced NHS workers because we want to know exactly what the realities of life, PPE and pay are right now. We’re hoping to have that all pulled together for next week – watch this space.

PPE is still a huge focus for us, because we know people are ill and dying because of the lack of it. I know I’m biased, but I think our PPE Toolkit and ‘Get Me PPE’ Campaign is the best out there – the team have worked incredibly hard to create a full suite of resources for members and reps.

View the Get Me PPE Toolkit

It's outrageous that vital frontline workers have still not got the Personal Protective Equipment they need. More action is needed to keep workers protected."

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary 

It’s worth saying that when we talk about PPE, it’s not just public sector workers who are in need – we’ve been raising the issue with big retailers, for example, because people need to get food and supplies and, in keeping that service running, our members need to be safe too.

We’re keeping the campaign rolling. Next Thursday we’ll Clap for Carers but we’re going further by holding a virtual rally – will you join us?

On the flip side to the campaign, for hundreds of thousands of key worker members who are still going to work, we have tens of thousands who are ‘furloughed’. We’ve pulled together information on every workplace that is furloughed, whether those workers are receiving full pay or just the 80% guaranteed by government and on the back of that will campaign and negotiate to try and get full pay for people where we need to.

In some instances, workers are dropping below the National Minimum Wage because they’re on low pay and a 20% cut takes them even lower. That’s not right. I wrote to the Chancellor telling him so and asking him to (sort it out) put it right and ensure the Job Retention Scheme does as was intended.

It is a moral outrage to pay workers less than the minimum wage – full stop. It is not too late to change course. GMB calls on the Chancellor to act urgently and remedy this serious flaw.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary 

Politics is a big part of what we do at GMB. I know it can switch some people off, but it really is part of the fight to get a better deal for our members. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes everyday, speaking to MPs and Ministers.

On Tuesday, I had a call with Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner and other trade union General Secretaries to get an update on where Labour is and to feed in from our members’ perspectives. The new front bench are settling into their roles.  Both myself and our political team have been speaking to shadow ministers on everything from HS2 to local government, to conditions in warehousing.

We really welcomed a video conference call today too between key workers, Angela and Keir. We had GMB members on the call to give real, first-hand experience to Labour’s Leader and Deputy Leader – its hugely important those voices are heard. 

Earlier this week, Keir raised what an exit plan for ‘lockdown’ means, and he’s right to. Our team are starting to look now on what sort of economic plan we’re going to need and how investment in public works could help stave of recession and boost the economy. That’s going to be a longer term bit of work but it’s really important.

That’s it for this week – make sure you sign up for our virtual rally on Thursday and for those who’ll get one, have a good weekend.

For everyone else, please stay safe.

Thank you.

Tim Roache
GMB General Secretary 

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