How cold is your boss?

On Thursday we launched a survey to gauge the reactions of employers to #TheBeastFromTheEast

The responses from workers came in thick and fast. Our campaign activists were also out on the streets of Edinburgh this morning speaking to workers about their experiences over the past few days. 

Here are some of our initial findings:

Employees are significantly more satisfied about their employers’ behaviour during difficult conditions if they are trade union members, according to the STUC’s survey of workers affected by the red weather alert.

47% of those that had a union rep to speak to about health and safety concerns were satisfied by their employers’ response, as opposed to 17% of those who didn’t and 30% of those who were unsure if they had a union representative.

The results come after campaign group Better than Zero found that retail and hospitality workers have been left in the dark by bosses about their positions during the red weather alert.

Across stores in Edinburgh town centre, staff and supervisors told the campaign that they had not been given information about the implications of not coming into work. Staff in a major discount book outlet had been given conflicting messages suggesting both that they would be unpaid and that they would be forced to take a day’s annual leave if they did not attend work. The supervisor verged on tears explaining to us the pressure put on the team to work in the shop, and the insistance of the managers that the door must remain open despite the cold weather.

The supervisor in a bargain store explained that his manager had sought to ensure workers did not have to travel far into work, but that pressure to attend work had come from higher up the chain of management which had led him to get a taxi into work because his partner thought it was not safe to drive him as usual.

These instances of bosses making deliberate decision to withhold information about the implications of not coming to work are both disrespectful and unsafe.

By contrast, in workplaces where staff have union membership, channels of communication between workers and bosses resulted in stores closing in response to staff concerns about health and safety.

In a major fast-food outlet, staff signed up to the BFAWU and successfully presented their demand to management who agreed to shut the store. Meanwhile, once UK civil servant said:

‘For the first time I can remember they shut the offices by 1pm, although I had heard they planned to stay open until 3pm. Must have been the PCS rep’s advances to them that made them see sense.’

Events this week are further proof that the collective voice a union provides makes a huge impact in making sure bosses recognise the interests and protect the safety of staff.


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