Responding to the announcement from the prime minister, Boris Johnson tonight, (Monday 23 March), that the UK is going into `lockdown' in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the general secretary of Unite the union, Len McCluskey has said:

"The prime minister's statement illustrates the gravity of the situation. This is a national health emergency and every resource, business and community in the country must be laser-focused, pulling together to do what needs to be done to protect public health.

"The message to employers is clear: be responsible, help workers be part and parcel of the essential efforts to support the nation. Keep workers and their families safe.  That means turn to the government's job retention scheme to pay wages to keep households afloat. Please, do not sack workers - use the mechanisms that we have persuaded this government to bring in to avert mass hardship.

"But I also say to the government, you are very aware that there are very many millions of people in this country with insecure employment and wages.  They need your urgent assistance.  They desperately want to heed this clear public health message  but they need to know that the awful false choice between health and hardship has been removed. 

"I urge you now, prime minister, stand behind the UK's workers. You promised that you would do whatever it takes.  It takes you to now to keep to your word - bring forward the measures that every worker needs in order to keep the country safe.  Do not let any worker be left behind."


Notes to editors:

For more about Unite's work during the coronavirus crisis to keep workers and the public safe, and to protect jobs and incomes, click here.

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