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Gig economy workers’ Covid nightmare – 1 in 10 return to work before finishing isolation

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Ministers are under pressure to tighten outdated Covid-safety rules for workplaces amid fears workers are being put at risk during lockdown.

One in 10 insecure workers – 350,000 people in the gig economy, agency workers or on zero-hours contracts – were back at their jobs within 10 days of a positive Covid test due to inadequate statutory sick pay, according to the RSA thinktank.

Around 4 per cent – or 1.2 million people – in the wider workforce also went back within 10 days.

The RSA also found 12 per cent of all workers have been ordered to come into the office when they could have worked from home.

Alan Lockey, head of the RSA’s future of work programme, said: “Our polling shows that millions feel forced to put themselves and others at risk of the virus because of insecure work, pressure from bosses, and the failings of our deeply inadequate welfare state.”

He urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to end the “terrible trade-off” many workers face between their health and feeding their families.

Labour’s Jonathan Reynolds said workers should be allowed to report employers who make them come in when they can work from home during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Labour urged new Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to tighten the rules by clarifying the stay-at-home message and rewriting safety rules following the emergence of new variants.

Guidance on protecting staff from coronavirus has not been fully updated since March 2020, despite advances in understanding of how the virus circulates through the air.

Shadow Employment Right Secretary Andy McDonald told the Mirror: “Without tighter restrictions and better enforcement, the government is putting workers and their families at risk.

“No one should be forced into work unnecessarily and workplaces should be Covid safe.

“People also need clarity, not mixed messages that tell them to stay at home but that they might be sacked if they do.

“We must secure our economy so that support matches the severity of the restrictions we face, including help for workers to self-isolate and businesses to survive closures.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The law is clear that you may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

“The overwhelming majority of businesses are doing the right thing, but we need all employers to act responsibly and take every possible step to help their employees work from home.

“Each and every one of us has a role to play in protecting our NHS and saving lives.”

A Government spokesman said ministers had workers with trade unions, businesses and medical experts to ensure businesses can open in a safe, Covid-secure way.

“On top of this, the Health and Safety Executive has received an additional £14 million to respond to concerns from workers, alongside £30 million for compliance and enforcement,” the spokesman added.

“Individuals on low incomes who need to self-isolate and cannot work from home may be eligible for a £500 payment under the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme.”



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Fri 9 AM | Exchange Exemplar: Gig Work, Heaven Or Hell? – Jefferson Public Radio

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GIG inks wind offtake with Danone in Poland – reNews

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Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) has signed an agreement with Danone companies in Poland to supply renewable energy through a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The power will be provided by GIG’s Jozwin wind farm, which was acquired by the business last year.

Route-to-market and balancing services will be provided by Axpo Polska, with Axpo also acting as the intermediary with food giant Danone, which will use Axpo as their licenced electricity provider.

This PPA will support Danone’s current decarbonisation goals as its Polish operations make up 6% of the business’ total energy usage around the world.

Danone is part of RE100, a collection of the companies that have committed to using 100% renewable electricity.

Danone’s commitment is to reach 100% of renewable electricity by 2030. 

At the end of 2020, Danone exceeded its previous target of 50% by 2020, getting 54.3% of its electricity from renewable sources.

GIG Europe head Edward Northam said: “This agreement shows our ability to work in partnership with our customers, in this case Danone, to develop bespoke solutions under challenging market conditions.

“Having understood Danone’s specific needs, GIG in partnership with Axpo, has created and delivered a solution that meets Danone’s energy and carbon reduction ambitions in a cost-effective manner.”

GIG has now supported 18 corporates with PPAs, equating to 3GW of renewables capacity.

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Gig economy workers demand fair conditions | Guardian News

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James Yang is still angry over the road deaths of five colleagues at work who suffered the same pressure he felt as a food delivery driver.

The Chinese migrant worked for Hungry Panda but says the company booted him off the app after raising concerns about conditions.

Mr Yang earned as little as $12.50 an hour working 12-hour days.

He and fellow gig economy workers met with politicians at federal parliament on Thursday, campaigning for the same rights afforded to other workers.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese believes gig workers should be given the minimum wage and greater scope to access other base employment standards.

He urged the Morrison government to stand up to Uber and Hungry Panda in the same way it took on tech giants over the news media bargaining code.

“What we can’t have is a circumstance whereby we have two industrial relations systems,” Mr Albanese said.

“One that has pay, one that has annual leave, sick leave, one that has conditions that most Australians take for granted, and another whole section of society who are marginalised, who don’t enjoy any minimum wage.”

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said he had a great deal of sympathy for Mr Yang but he’s not going to tell him there’s an easy fix.

He said the Fair Work Commission had consistently ruled gig workers were contractors and not subject to the same conditions as employees.

Mr Porter said media code negotiations with Facebook and Google were years in the making after a consumer watchdog inquiry.

He noted the cost to business of changing the gig model and impact on consumer pricing as key complexities in regulating the sector.

Rideshare driver Malcolm McKenzie said gig workers didn’t have the same avenues to pursue unfair dismissal.

“Drivers face the possibility of termination through the app as a result of a fallacious claim against them, unsubstantiated claim against them,” he said.

Delivery driver Ashley Moreland said he faced losing his job if orders weren’t met on the company’s timeline.

“It really is time that laws caught up to the technology and that we brought some rights to this industry,” he said.

“Because I think it’s a bit of a shame that in a modern developed democracy, we have this situation of third world work.”

Australian Associated Press



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