Due to COVID-19, key workers deserve a 'new deal'

Due to the increased pressure key workers have been put under due to COVID-19, calls have been made to create a “new deal for workers”, as millions of low-paid and undervalued employees have stepped up during a very difficult time.

The retail trade union, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) are asking for those in retail, manufacturing, distribution and home delivery to receive a new deal where the Government recognises their efforts during this pandemic. The union states they have been working to “keep food on our tables and medicines in our cupboards.”

The new deal Usdaw is calling for includes:

  • £10 minimum wage for all workers, ending rip-off youth rates and providing a living wage.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for everyone who wants it, that reflects normal hours worked and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
  • Better sick pay for all workers, from day one, at average earnings.
  • Protection at work – respect for shopworkers, abuse is not a part of the job.
  • A proper social security system, Universal Credit does not provide the necessary safety net.
  • Job security, with day one employment rights for unfair dismissal and redundancy.
  • Fair treatment and equality for all workers, including equal pay.
  • A voice at work, stop rogue employers from refusing to engage with trade unions.


Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw said:

Millions of low-paid workers have always provided essential services to help ensure the country is fed, healthy and safe and the Coronavirus emergency brings that to public attention. Usdaw members employed in our supermarkets, distribution warehouses, food processing sites and home delivery operations welcome the weekly applause for key workers, but that respect and appreciation must not fade into the background when this national crisis passes.

There must be lasting and fundamental changes to the way society views our lowest paid workers. We need a New Deal for the workers:  a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, an end to insecure employment, respect for shopworkers and action to ensure that retail jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued. It cannot be right that key workers in supermarkets, who are keeping our communities fed, are then visiting foodbanks to feed their own families.

Usdaw’s ‘Impact of Coronavirus’ survey revealed that increased abuse in shops, higher rates of illness, greater levels of job insecurity and issues with the benefits system are putting immense pressure on many Usdaw members who are key workers. Too many key workers are low-paid, with insecure hours and few employment rights. They have been undervalued for too long and deserve a new deal.