Blog

Coronavirus: Getting us through the hard times ahead

Mike Clancy · 20 March 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought many areas of public life to a standstill and is now also disrupting our working lives. I am certain that when we emerge from the crisis, attitudes to many things will have changed.

The UK’s ‘agile’ labour market will have been exposed more than ever for its systemic insecurities. The importance of the state and public services will have new converts and the respect for workers who are often taken for granted reconsidered.

The role of unions will also be transformed. On Tuesday, the Chancellor mentioned unions three times when he announced measures to support business. I have spoken to more ministers in a week than I have in the past year. Union engagement is suddenly a key part of the communication strategy to reassure the public.

And the last week has been intense, as we prepare internally to operate through the new norms and lobby government to support incomes of workers and the self-employed.

Many of our members are working on the frontline, keeping our key infrastructure operational, such as our scientists in public health, members in the energy sector, and those in public service broadcasting and telecommunications.

While for others, such as those in the creative industries – where tens of thousands of freelances have suddenly been hit with the prospect of no income – the crunch is already being felt.

As always, we will do everything that we can to help affected members, voice their concerns and fight for their interests.

Putting members first

In recent weeks we have been:

  • Working with employers to secure and protect members’ safety and incomes.
  • Ensuring members’ voices are heard as the crisis has spread – especially for members in the creative industries and areas such as heritage and aviation.
  • Campaigning to make sure government and employers take action to support public health and protect jobs.

Open for support

Although we will be changing the ways we work, Prospect will continue to be open and ready to support you in the coming weeks and months.

 Yesterday, our National Executive Committee met to agree a plan to help keep Prospect working. This is what we are doing:

  • Our Member Contact Centre and frontline staff continue to offer advice and support for members, many of whom are having their livelihoods directly affected by the coronavirus.
  • Most Bectu and Prospect staff will now be working from home.
  • We’ve postponed all our training events until the end of April.
  • We’ve cancelled our conference which was planned for May, in line with government advice, and are looking at different ways to directly consult and involve branches. These are serious measures that have not been taken lightly. But it is the correct and responsible response to this crisis.

If you need help

Please get in touch if you need any help or advice:

  • Visit our coronavirus webpages which will be regularly updated with advice for members.
  • Email info@bectu.org.uk or your regional office
  • Speak to your workplace rep or full time officer

Bectu subscriptions

In these difficult times we remind members that our subscription system allows for adjustment in payments where income is reduced. Please contact the membership team on 0207 346 0900 or email membership@bectu.org.uk should you need to discuss a change in your subscriptions.

In addition we are actively reviewing subscription measures to support members most affected by Covid-19 related reductions or termination of work. We also have certain automated features to our system which moves members through the banded rates, which we will adjust as soon as possible.

We are acutely aware of the need to support members through this period while ensuring the union can continue to operate on your behalf. As members know, we have lobbied intensely for freelance members to received guaranteed income from government and we await a decision from government at 17.00 tonight. (Friday 20 March).

Getting through this together

Society is being tested. Many of the measures being introduced and the near collapse of civic life would have been unfathomable just a few weeks ago.

Yet, it is during these challenging times when humanity also reveals the best of itself. Our brave and courageous NHS workers are the frontline of this battle and we are humbled by their sacrifice. But we can also reflect how so many people are vital to us as they deliver goods and keep us going. As I said above, we need to remember this when it’s over.

I want to emphasise that we are adjusting as soon as we can. We will not get everything right immediately and we are being tested by a business continuity challenge no one could have modelled. The staff of the union are responding magnificently and we will be there for you throughout.

Thank you for your continued membership and support.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, Bectu’s parent union

We’re here to support you

It’s truer now, more than ever, that we are stronger together. Throughout this tough period, Bectu will continue to stand up for members across all industries.
Join Bectu now