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The IR Guru NEWS Bulletin

October 29, 2020

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Landmark legal case against Uber’s firing by algorithm

Unions are fighting Uber on its practice of automated ‘robo-firing’.

In a landmark case, the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) has filed a complaint in the Netherlands (where Uber’s data is based) on behalf of three drivers in the UK. 

The International Alliance of App-based Transport Workers is supporting the claim of a fourth driver from Portugal.  

In each of the cases the drivers were dismissed after Uber said its systems had detected fraudulent activity on the part of the individuals concerned, which the drivers deny, says the ADCU. 

The drivers haven’t been allowed the opportunity to challenge or appeal the decision.

The union further explains that under the UK Data Protection Act and Article 22 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, individuals have the right to certain protections from automated decisions that create negative effects but are carried out without meaningful human intervention. 

Yaseen Aslam, President of the ADCU said: “We are seeing a glimpse into an Orwellian world of work where workers have no rights and are managed by machine. If Uber is not checked, this practice will become the norm for everyone.”


Report on US worker deaths shows safety neglect on part of the government, says union body

On average 275 US workers die every day from hazardous working conditions, latest figures show.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a federation of national and international unions, says the job fatality rate in 2018 remained the same as the previous year – 3.5 per 100,000 workers, indicating little progress on making workplaces safer in recent years.

The release of its annual Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report revealed that in 2018, 5,250 working people were killed on the job and an estimated 95,000 died from occupational diseases in the US.

There was an increase in the number of Latino worker deaths (961 in 2018 compared with 903 in 2017) and deaths of black workers (615 compared with 530 the previous year).

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said there have been cuts to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and a weakening of regulations.

“This report shows the tremendous neglect by the Trump administration, since day one in office, to ensure that working people are safe on the job,” he added. 


 Photo credit: Mark Thomas

Candidates revealed for UNISON’s election

The election process to choose a new general secretary for UNISON is underway with four nominated candidates confirmed.

The four are Paul Holmes, Christina McAnea, Roger McKenzie and Hugo Pierre.

Ballot papers will be sent to members’ home addresses with all voting to take place by post.

The deadline for receipt of votes is 5pm on Friday 27 November 2020, with the result being announced on 11 January 2021.

The current General Secretary, Dave Prentis, announced he is to retire on 31 December 2020. 


Reverse the axing of union learning, says TUC and employers

A campaign to save the £12 million a year Union Learning Fund (ULF), which the government announced it is scrapping in England next year, has been launched by the TUC.

The campaign #SaveUnionLearning, has had backing from employers such as Tesco, Tata Steel and Arla Foods, as well as unions and education and training organisations.

The ULF increases access to learning and training in workplaces, brokered by unions. In 2019-20, it supported 200,000 learners – both union members and non-members, said the TUC.

Independent evaluation from 2018 showed that it delivers an estimated net contribution to the economy of more than £1.4 billion as a result of a boost to jobs, wages and productivity.

The TUC has created a petition calling on the government to reverse the cuts and is urging people who have participated in union learning to share their stories, so its value can be demonstrated.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Union learning is a national asset and a vital plank of building [the economy] back better. The Prime Minister must reject this proposal.”

To get involved in the campaign see


Belarus workers face continued threats of violence and imprisonment

Workers and union representatives are continuing to suffer repression as nationwide strikes are held in protest at the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, says the International Trade union Confederation (ITUC).

Strikes took place on October 26 with work stoppages in factories and other workplaces and small businesses closing in support.

In Minsk alone, 100,000 people joined a protest march. However, union representatives are being detained and imprisoned in order to stop them organising workplace actions, says ITUC.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, has called on the government to cease its violation of fundamental rights.

“The right to strike is guaranteed under international law and the government is obliged to respect this right. Freedom of Association also depends on freedom of assembly, which the government is repressing through violence and threats aimed at the public.”

Mass protests have been taking place in Belarus since Lukashenko declared victory in the presidential election in August.


Photo credit: chrisdorney –

Unite announces strike action at Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce workers in Lancashire are to strike for three weeks in November to fight offshoring plans that will result in 350 job losses.  

In August, management announced it would offshore production of its Trent Engine blades, which are made at Barnoldswick, to a factory in Singapore.

Unite said this would “destroy the viability” of the Lancashire factory. As a result, union members of Unite returned a 94% ‘yes’ vote in favour of industrial action.

Strike action will begin on November 6 and end on November 27.

Unite National Officer, Rhys McCarthy, said there’s still time for Rolls-Royce to reverse the decision or come up with alternative plans to preserve jobs and the factory’s future.

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said there are no plans to close the factory.


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