A list of self-employed, gig-economy and key workers, such as food deliverers, cabbies, care workers, and medical couriers are each coming out with their list of demands for support, saying that they are receiving little to no support amid the UK government imposed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown.
On 26 March Finance Minister Rishi Sunak announced measures of financial support for certain categories of self-employed workers if they earn more than 50% of their income as self-employed workers. This announcement followed a decision by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) to launch a lawsuit against the government for discriminating against gig economy and self-employed workers.
The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will support those adversely affected by #coronavirus, click below for details 👇— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) March 26, 2020
The Chancellor also faced calls for more action to support lower paid workers and the self-employed from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, as well as Mervin King the former governor of the Bank of England.
But the IWGB general secretary, Jason Moyer-Lee, said that the support offered by the Treasury doesn't solve the problem that many self-employed and gig economy workers face.
"Whilst it is welcome that the Chancellor has announced measures for the self-employed, the problem has not been solved. There is still nothing on sick pay, waiting until June for the money is not an option for many, and low paid workers who recently started working for "gig economy" companies or who depend on self-employment for 49% of their income will get nothing", he stated.
Moyer-Lee lamented the fact that the,"amount of money that does appear to be available seems to be based on profits, which ignores the fact that couriers, minicab drivers and others have significant expenses they'll continue to have to pay in the meantime".
He added that on top of that, "foster care workers tend to record zero profit, meaning they will get nothing from the scheme", and low paid self-employed workers, "simply cannot make it for another couple months with no sick pay and dramatically reduced or no income". Fort that reason, "a great many [workers] face financial destitution", even after Sunak's announcement.
The IWGB has different branches which represent different workers depending on their occupation.
According to the IWGB:
- The IWGB Couriers & Logistics Branch have raised ten key demands on pay, safety and communication.
🚨IWGB CLB Branch votes on emergency measures🚨— IWGB Couriers Branch (@IWGB_CLB) March 18, 2020
In this time of crisis many low paid precarious workers’ roles become even more essential to society.
We must have H&S and basic guarantees too.
10 demands below pic.twitter.com/MajGCNyxz1
- The United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB, are demanding the immediate implementation of worker status for private hire drivers, as well as other measures on pay and safety.
Association United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) has called on Uber, Ola, Bolt and other minicab operators to take urgent action to protect drivers and customers from the spread of COVID-19.— Private Hire & Taxi Monthly (@PHTMNewspaper) March 10, 2020
- The IWGB University of London Branch has listed ten demands to protect workers and to ensure decent pay, safety and communication.
Hey @UoLondon , have you wondered how seeing your only source of income disappear or your salary halved might affect mental health?— IWGBUniversityLondon (@IWGBUoL) March 27, 2020
Ask the @UoLondonSC bar staff or the cleaners at @londonu https://t.co/4UQy9jxpzF
Your hypocrisy is despicable https://t.co/8q09rneOrc
- The IWGB Cleaners and Facilities Branch are pushing back against workers being laid-off without pay.
Just had a call from a cleaner who told me that her workplace is closed due to the coronavirus, however her manager told her and her colleague to come in turns to clean her house in order to continue paying them.— Henry Lopez (@HCHLopez) March 27, 2020
We are on the case!#notessential
- The IWGB Foster Care Workers Branch are calling for all Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies to respect the right of foster carers to keep themselves, their families and the children in their care as safe as possible during this pandemic.
Here is our statement on safe working for all foster carers in this time of crisis. No one should be asked to do anything that will endanger them or children in their care. No foster carer should be left without pay if too unwell to care. #fostercare https://t.co/KDI8Bx5tdb— Foster Care Workers Branch of the IWGB (@FCWUnion) March 20, 2020
As an example of the types of complaints raised by Cleaners and Facilities IWGB Branch, the conglomerate Interserve, which provides outsourced services to the British state, is refusing to offer full pay to a worker forced to self-isolate after his 5-year-old son was admitted to hospital with symptoms of the virus.
.@Interserve is refusing to give one of their employees’ full pay when he’s had to self-isolate after his 5-year-old son was admitted to hospital with symptoms. Rather than supporting their workers they are instead profiting from the #Covid_19crisis #hallofshame— IWGB Cleaners & Facilities Branch (@IWGBcleaners) March 23, 2020
The IWGB is also bringing legal action against The Doctors Laboratory (TDL), a provider of clinical laboratory diagnostic services, on behalf of TDL's medical couriers, whom they say should have access to sickpay, proper protective gear and regular COVID-19 testing.
🚨DEMAND PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT & SICK PAY FOR #COVID19UK MEDICAL COURIERS 🚨— IWGB (@IWGBunion) March 26, 2020
We are taking legal action against TDL over failure to provide protective equipment and sick pay to medical couriers transporting COVID-19.
SUPPORT THE CASE NOW: https://t.co/lc10a0LnsQ
The government, the employers and the country owes a massive debt to these workers, and its time it was paid.— IWGB (@IWGBunion) March 31, 2020
Our member @alexjkmarshall, featured in this doc, spends his days delivering Covid-19 samples to labs, but is denied decent sick pay and protective equipment. https://t.co/SLXQuau6PN
They also said that the IWGB Deliveroo campaign "Riders Roovolt" are, "sharing advice on how to support couriers when ordering through Deliveroo".
The IWGB launched a request from the public to raise funds to support their lawsuit.
According to the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics approximately 11% of workers in the UK are self-employed.