In light of the developing surge in coronavirus cases, a Covid-19 subcommittee of the IWGB Union’s Executive Committee has issued a ruling stating that all face-to-face union activities – picketing, meetings, recruitment, leafleting – must be suspended, even if they were previously being carried out in a covid-distanced manner. This move is similar to a decision taken by the USDAW shop-workers’ union earlier in the year. In both cases, we think it is mistaken. Unions are an essential service. Like all other essential serivces, they must find ways of working with the increased risk (as all delivery workers do every day).
Unions are right to want to reduce risk to members. But risk reduction also means giving members a means of pushing back against employers and asserting their equal right to safety. Suspending union operations will make workplaces more dangerous.