Workplaces are many and varied! What you can do to ensure that your workplace is “Covid Secure” depends on the type of workplace that you work in. The bigger the workplace, the easier it is to enforce safety regulations. For example, it is more likely to be a Unionised workplace with a Health & Safety Representative and in workplaces with many workers it is more difficult for the boss to intimidate an individual worker who raises concerns about safety.
If your workplace has a “Recognised Trade Union”, then you should join that Union. You will not receive “representation” from the Trade Union until you have paid two or three month’s subscriptions but at least you will have “started the ball rolling” and, as it looks as though Covid-19 will be with us for some time to come, the sooner that you get protection the better.
If you are in a Trade Union, then there are a number of questions that you will need to ask your Trade Union Representative:
- Is there a member of the workplace management team who has responsibility for Health & Safety?
- Has a Covid-19 Risk Assessment been carried out and is it documented?
- Was the Trade Union Representative or Trade Union Health & Safety Representative consulted about it?
- Can you see the Covid-19 Risk Assessment document?
Satisfactory answers to these questions may put your mind at rest. However, if you still have concerns, then you should raise them at your next Union Branch Meeting. You can only influence what your Trade Union does if you are actively involved.
Of course, many of you will be in workplaces which are not unionised. In which case we advise you to join an Independent Union, one which is not part of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) or affiliated to a political party. For example, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the United Voices of the World (UVW) and the International Workers of Great Britain (IWGB). Any of these Unions will provide you with help and advice. If you need guidance about which one to join, get in touch.
However, there are also many of you who have “precarious” employment arrangements. You will be on a “Zero Hours” or fixed-term contracts. You will be receiving low pay and have no job security. You ca not afford to commit to £10 – £20 a month direct debits to pay your Union subscription. You will feel vulnerable and isolated. Your employer may even be hostile to Unions so that you are afraid of joining a Union in case the Boss finds out. In these cases there are still things that you can do:
- Self-organise! You will need to be confident that your employment will be safe if you talk to your fellow workers about approaching the Boss together to discuss addressing Health & Safety concerns. We advise you not to approach your Boss as an individual. It is much easier for an employer to “manage you out” of the door. You should only do this collectively. “Together We Are Stronger”, is the catchphrase which sums this up. As the late Bob Crow put it:
“Spit on your own and you can’t do anything, but if you all spit together you can drown the bastards.” If you need advice about “self-organising”, get in touch.
- Unfortunately, there are too many of us who lack the confidence or capacity to self-organise. You may feel that your best bet is to keep your head down, ride out the pandemic and hope for the best. Alas, Covid-19 cannot be dodged! It could kill you or family members if you work in a Covid insecure workplace. In this case, again get in touch and we may be able to help.
Good luck Comrades! Keep Safe and Stay Well!