Unite the union is stepping up its campaign to eradicate pay and employment abuses of members of the Turkish and Kurdish communities in London that have surfaced during the pandemic

The union will hold a socially distanced event, conforming to Covid-19 regulations, outside the library at 187-197A High Rd, Wood Green, London N22 6XD at 15.00 on Friday (16 April) when a newly translated leaflet in Turkish will be distributed outlining the employment rights available to the community.

Last year, as the pandemic took hold, Unite joined forces with community organisation Day-Mer to kick-start a workers’ rights campaign aimed at the Turkish/Kurdish community in the boroughs of Enfield, Hackney, Haringey and Islington.

Unite said the workplace problems identified over the last 12 months have included abuses of the furlough scheme; failure to pay the London living wage, currently £10.85 an hour; and employers failing to pay contractual sick pay, so workers have to rely on statutory sick pay (SSP) of £96.35 a week, if they have had to self-isolate during the pandemic.

The areas that the Turkish/Kurdish community work in include retail and catering, wholesale outlets, hotels, restaurants, shops and supermarkets and on industrial estates in the four boroughs.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Friday’s socially distanced event builds on the campaign launched last year as the true impact of the pandemic for working people became apparent.

“We want to build links with the army of non-unionised, unorganised workers within these boroughs from the Turkish and Kurdish communities. These workers have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

“We have been told of cases where company bosses have claimed furlough, but staff did not see the benefits through the protection of wages. There are also companies not paying the London living wage.

“Very few of the employers are paying any contractual sick pay – instead, it is the bare minimum statutory sick pay, a huge issue when workers have been told to self-isolate.

“The new leaflet in Turkish will highlight to workers their statutory rights, and raise awareness in the continuing battle to improve pay, conditions and safety at work.

“A key demand is that where workers have to self-isolate, they must remain on full pay.”

Hornsey councillor Adam Jogee said: “I am so proud of Haringey’s vibrant Turkish and Kurdish communities who have made, and are making a huge contribution to the community that we all call home.  I have seen up close the economic, social and community-minded contribution they make every day and that is why I am delighted to support this campaign.

“Decent pay, workers’ rights and a safe working environment have never been more needed than now. I will continue to work with Day-Mer and Unite the union to stand up for workers from the Turkish and Kurdish communities here in Haringey and across North London.

“I urge members of the community to join a union, to speak up and be counted and to ensure that their voices, views and needs are heard loud and clear by those in power.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.