End of Furlough – Part 2 (for those returning to workplaces)

September 30th 2021, is the last day of the Furlough Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

We have already written about what workers can do if they lose their jobs, but what about those who have to return to workplaces? Many of us will be obliged to return to workplaces which are not safe places to work in. If your workplace is not safe, it is no good informing the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which is supposed to protect you, it is only there to protect the bosses wealth.  You have to protect yourself! The only way that you can do that effectively is collectively. You have to act together with your fellow workers.

Those of you who are members of Unions should approach your Workplace Representative and ask if they are calling a meeting to discuss Covid Security. If your workplace has 5 or more workers in it, your Rep should have worked with management to produce a Covid Risk Assessment, which will include the measures to be used to minimise the transmission of infection. This is the advice issued by the HSE and is valid if insincere:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/risk-assessment.htm

A model Covid risk assessment is here:

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/publications/example-covid-19-workplace-risk-assessment-template

The risk assessment must be in writing and must be available for you to read. One thing to bear in mind is that quite often your Workplace Rep only got the “job” because they are amenable to the bosses. If you can do so without sticking your neck out too far, it is probably a good idea to suggest changes to the assessment so that it does provide real protection for you rather than the bosses wealth.

Those of you in small or non-unionised workplaces, are in a tricky situation. You know that you are risking the sack if you make waves and complain about anything. You have to know how things work in your workplace, get to know your fellow workers and be cautious about what you do or say.  The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has produced a training module for workers attempting to organise their own workplaces. I have delivered it to students and it does contain the important stuff that you need to know before you go off half cock. It is here:

I have worked for companies where Health & Safety was a sick joke and where resistance was punished with harsh reprisals. You can only respond with whatever Solidarity is appropriate: help each other, look after each other and be kind to each other. Fortunately, the job market is a sellers’ market at the moment so if you don’t feel safe at work, you are in a good position to find another job. Good Luck Fellow Workers!

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