Wednesday’s Online Meeting about Statutory Sick Pay

Wednesday evening, I went to a Zoom meeting organised by the Centre for Progressive Change about campaigning for much needed reforms to Statutory Sick Pay. The Centre for Progressive Change is a new organisation, and this is their first campaign, so they want to make a mark. As far as I could make out, the campaign is being led by the cleaners and their union, although other unions are also involved. At the moment there are a large number of workers, who aren’t getting statutory sick pay. I’ve forgotten the precise figures, but it’s something like a third or above. If they do qualify for it, they have to wait three days to receive it from the day they sign off sick, and the amount paid, £99 a week, isn’t sufficient to cover people’s needs. They are therefore campaigning for the amount to be raised, and for it to be paid from the first day of ill health.

They also mentioned cases where workers were denied time off work and SSP by their employers, even though they were perfectly entitled to it. This included one young man who came down with cancer a year or so ago. An operation was scheduled, but he was told he would have to isolate for a week or so before the operation to make sure he didn’t catch Covid and would need two weeks off work to recover. When he told this to his HR manager, who had previously been kind and supportive, he was told that the manager couldn’t run a place like this and so couldn’t take the time off work for isolation. Nor was he going to receive sick pay when he took time off work to recuperate. The boss told him instead that he’d have to take unpaid holiday.

This clearly isn’t acceptable.

The meeting itself was bilingual in English and Spanish. There was a button for simultaneous translation, so if you didn’t speak whatever language was being spoken at that moment, you could press a button and get the translation. It felt rather like being at the UN when the various ambassadors and officials there get the translations of speeches through their headphones. I was puzzled why it was in English and Spanish when we’re no longer in the EU, but it may just be that so many of the cleaning staff and other low wage workers involved in this campaign are Spanish.

They’ve got a petition to persuade the government to pay increased SSP and are also trying to get people to organise to see their local MPs about it. I’ve signed it because of the cost of living crisis and Truss’ renewed assault on working class wellbeing.

For more information, go to their website athttps://www.centreforprogressivechange.org/

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