A message from the General Secretary of Mandate Trade Union, Gerry Light.
Since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic nearly two years ago there can be no doubt that retail workers have earned the right to be considered essential workers. As you well know this is a recognition that has not been easily won and the road travelled has been difficult and fraught with dangers which unfortunately continue to this day. Many have suffered financially and also through their physical and mental health indeed some have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives and at times like this they must remain in the forefront of our thoughts.
From the outset and during the course of this difficult journey your union set a number of priorities. First was to ensure as much as possible to keep you safe whilst at work. There are a number of ways we have tried to achieve this. We have and continue to make through relevant bodies what I believe to be important contributions to the various versions of the return to work safety protocols that have emerged since we were all challenged with the arrival of Covid. As part of our efforts to maintain the highest safety standards possible we have publically challenged both customers and retail employers alike to play their part in showing in a tangible way the due respect and considerations that you undoubtedly deserve. Words of appreciation and gratitude are not enough what we need is action.
Another main commitment to you the members was to protect your jobs and the terms and conditions associated with them. Depending on individual business circumstances we have done this along with negotiating improvements where possible. Unfortunately we have also had to deal with businesses that became insolvent as a direct impact of Covid resulting in the loss of many thousands of quality retail jobs and our thoughts are also with these workers and their dependents at this time of year. To the shame of this and previous governments sufficient protective legislative measures were not in place to shield workers who lost their livelihoods in this way and that is why your union is leading in the ongoing campaign for appropriate changes to both employment and company law.
The journey ahead remains uncertain and I have no doubt we will need all our collective determination and energies to meet the challenges that arise.
Of course the best way to harness this power is by being an active member in your union. Like you and your love ones I desire to see an end to the scourge of the pandemic. At times it is difficult to see when this might happen but happen it will. Until we reach that point in time it is essential that we all redouble our efforts to come together in common purpose to ensure that the values associated with trade unions and indeed decent societies such as solidarity, compassion, tolerance and empathy don’t also become causalities of Covid. If this happens the anticipated aftermath for workers will be much more damaging and longer lasting.
I want to finish by wishing you and yours a truly happy and safe Christmas and New Year. Surely there are few groups of workers who can claim they deserve it more than you.
Thank you for listening and stay safe.”