Branch Secretary :

A Network of Protection for Housing Operatives

Unite activists from a number of housing associations have formed a network to help ensure that operatives and maintenance staff (including plumbers, electricians, and gas engineers), are able to work without putting their health at risk. They also want to minimise the chances of carrying Coronavirus between properties, and this means everyone needs to be aware of their rights, and is confident in enforcing them.


Whatsapp Network


To create a permanent and secure network of communication, a Whatsapp group has been formed. This will help us share information, and crucially, will give members somewhere to turn to if they fear victimisation for refusing to enter an unsafe site. The group is open to any operative (or their reps) working for a housing association. Please send your name, employer name and your phone number to to be added.


Unite has also launched a hotline for reporting unsafe building sites which can be contacted as follows:




Opposing Unsafe Workplaces 


If employers attempt to force members into unsafe sites, we will actively oppose them including through Unite's political networks, and through campaigning. One option being considered by the group is a 'Day of Action' with all operatives coordinating a refusal to work on health and safety grounds. Unite will also be contacting the larger employers to ask them to sign a specific agreement for operatives working during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Briefing Materials on H&S resources: 


There is plenty of advisory material available, but it is sometimes hard to find the information that is most relevant. We will therefore provide a collection of the most relevant material, including the template letter developed by the Housing Workers Branch that workers can send if they believe their employer has breached health and safety law or government guidance on Covid-19 safeguards. See the template and other H&S resources here.


Legal Cards: 


When members do have a concern and want to discuss it before acting, as well as their regional officers, they can phone Unite's legal department directly for advice. Unite advises:


"If Unite members need advice on a COVID-19 related employment law query that is not covered by the online information, and the workplace rep is not available, you can call Unite’s dedicated COVID-19 Legal Advice Line on 0333 202 6557".


We will develop a pockit-sized resource providing this information and a summary of a member's right to refuse to work if they are being put in imminent danger. This will be especially important for the many lone workers amongst our members who might find it difficult to stand up to pressure.


Before Posting

We welcome debate and discussion on our website, but we also want an open, respectful, inclusive space in which forms of abuse or personal attack will not be tolerated. Comments will be moderated and will be removed if they are found to be unduly offensive. You should also be very careful in posting information about your employer. Employers do visit the website and if you think a comment could get you into trouble for releasing confidential or sensitive information, or for bringing the employer into disrepute, please do not post it. It remains your individual responsibility to ensure that what you post is appropriate. Please therefore just give a moment's thought to what you are saying. The types of comments that are likely to be moderated are:

  • Personal abuse or attacks on an individual.
  • Information which breaches another person's right to confidentiality.
  • The use of offensive language, including swear words, or language which is racist, sexist, or otherwise breaches equalities standards.
  • Anything that might place the Branch or the wider union in legal jeopardy.
  • Adverts or information which is posted for commercial gain.

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