IT IS A moral outrage to pay workers less than the minimum wage the GMB union told the Tory government yesterday.
The union has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to demand that furloughed workers be paid no less than minimum wage rates under the government’s Job Retention Scheme.
The government’s current guidance states that ‘furloughed workers who are not working can be paid the lower of 80% of their salary or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below their appropriate minimum wage.’
The only exception is for time spent on mandatory training while furloughed.
Writing to the Chancellor, GMB’s General Secretary Tim Roache said that the decision will cause ‘significant hardship’ and is a ‘violation of the spirit of the National Minimum Wage Act, and a breach of the social contract.’
The GMB is calling on the government to urgently amend the scheme ahead of the opening of HMRC’s claims portal on Monday 20 April 2020.
Roache said: ‘It is a moral outrage to pay workers less than the minimum wage – full stop.
‘Instead of hiding behind a legal loophole, ministers must ensure that all furloughed workers continue to receive minimum wage rates at the very least.
‘Failure to do so is already causing unnecessary and significant hardship for many low-paid workers.
‘It is not too late to change course. GMB calls on the Chancellor to act urgently and remedy this serious flaw in the Job Retention Scheme.’
- Logistics unions in the UK have blasted DHL for ‘endangering thousands’ with ‘inadequate’ coronavirus social distancing and safety measures and by forcing self-isolating workers to survive on statutory sick pay (SSP).
GMB, Unite, Usdaw, RMT and URTU yesterday April called on DHL, which employs around 41,000 people in the UK, to work with them to resolve its workforce’s concerns over Covid-19 safety and the rate of pay for staff who are self-isolating or have been furloughed.
The unions said DHL’s refusal to acknowledge ‘urgent concerns’ over a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the possibility that symptomatic and at-risk staff may stay at work because of the dramatic drop in their incomes on SSP, showed an ‘utter disdain’ for its workforce.
The joint trade unions statement said: ‘DHL is one of the largest and wealthiest logistics companies in the world and during the Covid-19 pandemic should be leading by example.
‘Instead the company is showing utter disdain for its workforce by disregarding the urgent concerns of its staff over a lack of PPE and a failure to carry out safety and social distancing measures across its operations.
‘DHL’s refusal to grant full company sick pay to symptomatic workers who need to self-isolate, or to those with underlying health conditions, is also a huge cause of concern.
‘There is a real danger that staff who should not be leaving the house will continue to go to work because they cannot afford to pay their bills on the basic SSP rate of £95.85 a week. All DHL staff should be entitled to full company sick pay if they are forced to self-isolate.
‘A company that is worth tens of billions should also be topping up the wages of those staff who have been furloughed, instead of simply taking advantage of the government’s job retention scheme.’
‘DHL’s inadequate response to the pandemic is endangering thousands. We call on the company to meaningfully negotiate with the joint trade unions to address the concerns of its loyal workforce, many of whom are exposing themselves to risk to ensure essential services keep running.’