Unite’s ‘standing army’ of 30,000 workplace reps is being mobilised to play its part in promoting the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine to workmates across the UK.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, today (Friday, 05 March) launched a major initiative with its general secretary Len McCluskey saying the UK’s accelerating vaccination programme is a bridge to a safer world, and the chance to live, work and travel as we did before’.

Unite is especially keen to assist those hard-to-reach groups which have been hit hardest by the virus but where some are yet to be convinced of the merits or safety of the two major vaccines currently deployed in the UK – Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

The union also repeated its call for an urgent uplift in statutory sick pay stating that the country needs 'more than one club in its bag' to beat this disease, including much more support for low waged workers who have to isolate. 

The union has produced a raft of promotional campaign materials, including films for its million-plus membership across the UK, urging workers and their loved ones to 'get a jab', which can be found here 

In a launch letter to members, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “I am hugely proud of the role our union's members, reps, officers and staff have played in supporting the people of this country through this time of crisis. 

“I am incredibly proud too that it is our members who are engaged in the development, distribution and administration of the vaccines that will keep us safe and give us hope of a better tomorrow.

“But we know our work doesn't stop there. We now have a role to play in promoting the uptake of the vaccine because we are only protected when we protect one another.

“However, we know that some members may be worried about getting vaccinated. And there is incontestable evidence now that this is a disease which hits the low paid and vulnerable hardest, so we must support every effort to vaccinate these communities. 

“The films and materials have been developed in consultation with our health and safety experts and the union's Covid-19 taskforce. 

“They have drawn from the best scientific and public health advice to develop these materials, explaining clearly the process behind the development of the vaccines and exploding some of the myths that are doing the rounds, unhelpfully, on social media.

“We take our duty to keep our members safe extremely seriously and, as a union, we are incredibly privileged to have ‘a standing army’ of 30,000 workplace reps embedded in workplaces across the UK.

“They will be in the vanguard of promoting the benefits of vaccination to their colleagues and especially reaching out to those groups reluctant to have the jab.

“The vaccines to protect us against this horrible disease are an incredible and hopeful development, a bridge to a safer world, and the chance to live, work and travel as we did before.”

Unite also repeated its call for the government to do much more to support those who are too frightened to seek a test for Covid for fear of losing their incomes.

Len McCluskey said: "The vaccination programme is a tremendous advancement but we need more than one club in the bag to beat back this disease.  

"It is extremely concerning, therefore, that in the Budget the government again failed to bring forward improved support for the low paid and vulnerable to ensure that they can isolate if they contract this dangerous virus. Sick pay support in this country is among the worst in the western world. It must be raised to a living level, and urgently."

ENDS

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]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

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