Socialist Worker

‘Diversity’ firm used virus to sack staff before lockdown

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2712

The firm that promotes diversity and inclusion sacked Charlotte during a pandemic

A firm that promotes diversity and inclusion sacked Charlotte during a pandemic


As the reality of mass job cuts hits ever more people, a consultancy that trains companies and institutions about ­equality, diversity and inclusion is treating some of its staff like dirt.

The firm told ­workers on its furlough scheme that they were treating it like “a ­pipeline for money”. Furloughed worker Charlotte said that the scheme has in fact been a “lifeline” for workers.

Charlotte was sacked from the firm with no notice before the Tories announced the lockdown in March. She and other sacked workers faced a battle to get the company to join the government’s ­furlough scheme.

Now the firm has said it won’t continue with the scheme.

“We will not be going ­further than the end of the June [sic] with your ­employment and furlough payments,” an email to ­workers read. “I realise there is an advantage to you in us continuing for another month, however it feels like you are treating this like we are just a pipeline for money.”

‘Paranoid’

Charlotte said she was “shocked” at how bosses had behaved. “The consultancy advises other institutions on dignity at work, equality and diversity and respect for staff,” she explained.

Earlier this year workers began asking what would happen to their jobs, they were told they were being “paranoid”.

“A manager took three of us into a meeting,” said Charlotte. “She said we had lost work with the Houses of Parliament and that was our biggest contract, so they were going to let us go.

“This was before lockdown was even announced.” 

The government then announced its Job Retention Scheme, where workers could be “furloughed” with the state paying most of their wages. 

The company agreed to furlough the three as long as the scheme stayed the same. But since then, the ­government said that bosses would be required to pay some of the money. 

Now Charlotte and other sacked staff face a struggle to find work.

“I’ve been applying for jobs, but the job market is really bad,” said Charlotte. “One notification I got said that 1,374 people had applied for the same job I’d applied for. And many of my friends are in similar situations. It’s very scary for all of us.”

Support

And Charlotte said, the government could do much more about this. “We don’t feel we’ve got the support from the government,” she said. “The furlough scheme could have carried on for a bit longer—that would have helped.

“At least people would have a job at the end of it. Universal Credit is not enough for people to survive on, they need to raise that. And give grants to small businesses—not loans—so they can keep going.”

But like many, she isn’t optimistic about the chances that the Tories will look after ordinary people.

“I read that Boris Johnson said we should be clapping for the bankers because they’ll help get us out of this economic mess,” she said. “That doesn’t help. The government has got a lot to answer for.


Ryanair–‘we’ll cut your pay or jobs’

Bullying bosses are demanding that workers take huge pay cuts to “save jobs”.

The pressure must be rejected.

Ryanair pilots last week agreed to take a 20 percent pay cut. The pilots’ union Balpa said that “in the circumstances this is the right thing to do even if it means accepting difficult temporary reductions in pay.”

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, made public an ultimatum that a total of 3,000 job losses would go through unless staff took cuts.

He added that if everyone accepted less pay it might be possible to “avoid most but not all job losses.”

The deal still leaves 70 pilot jobs under threat.

Such bosses’ blackmail at other firms in the past has seen pay cuts rammed through but promises of job guarantees swiftly dropped.

Unions should encourage their members to fight, not surrender.

Charlie Kimber


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.