Swift action from GMB union organisers has won full sick and self-isolation pay for 17,000 workers employed by Amey plc.

Following negotiations for refuse workers in the London Borough of Ealing, the GMB released correspondence with Amey’s HR boss causing a small PR disaster for the outsourcing firm.

During the negotiations, Amey’s senior HR boss, Simon Schumann-Davies claimed: ““when compared with many other diseases such as normal influenza, the impacts [of Covid-19] on the individual are currently actually less severe…[and so] we are applying exactly the same rules regarding sickness benefit as we would for any other condition in that we will be paying contractual entitlement.” In other words, most workers will get Statutory Sick Pay (£94.25 per week).

Within a day, Amey had done a U-turn and agreed for full sick and self-isolation pay not just for the Ealing workers, but all workers across its firm. They even put a statement on their website thanking the union for bringing the matter to their attention!

Simon Schumann-Davies had the misfortune of saying what many bosses are thinking in the privacy of their own self-isolated safety: the lives of essential workers are worth less than the need to maximise profit. There remain hundreds of thousands of essential workers without basic rights to sick and self-isolation pay and whose bosses are not as blunt as Mr Schumann-Davies and who are not currently in trade unions.

The refuse workers in Ealing have shown trade union action gets results!

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