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Work rights for the terminally ill?

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terminally ill, work rights, TUC, MEPs, European ParliamentTerminally ill employees should not be fired from their workplace.

Labour MEPs and British trade union officials have called for urgent EU action to protect terminally ill workers throughout Europe.

They are now pushing for the UK’s trade union-led campaign, Dying to Work, to be supported at a European level.

The campaign, intially launched in May this year, aims to ensure that terminally ill employees are not cruelly fired from their workplace.

The TUC’s Dying to Work campaign was launched after an employer of a GMB member tried to dismiss her following a terminal cancer diagnosis.

MEP Glenis Willmott, Labour’s leader in the European Parliament, said: “I was appalled to hear that a constituent of mine was threatened with dismissal when she told her employer that she had a terminal illness.

“What sort of society do we live in when employers treat their staff in this manner?”

The employee, Jacci Woodcock, took her employer to court and is now bravely fighting for more employment protection for others with a terminal illness.

The TUC wants UK legislation to include terminal illness as a ‘protected characteristic’.

This would mean that an employee with a terminal illness could not be dismissed as a result of their condition.

Lee Barron, Regional Secretary for the Midlands TUC, said: “Some people are surprised to hear that someone with a terminal illness would want to work, but many people don’t have a choice, they still have to provide for their families and pay the bills.”

“Labour MEPs raising this issue at a European level is a great achievement.

“The TUC are committed to extending the protection of terminally ill employees in the UK.”

Richard Oliver, the GMB’s Political Officer for the East Midlands, said: “I am delighted that we were able to raise this issue again at the European Parliament. Getting support from MEPs from across Europe really strengthens our campaign.”

At the launch the campaign, Midlands TUC Regional Secreatry, Lee Barron, said: ‘People often say that some things are right and left. Well this is not. This is about right or wrong.

‘Too many people are being put in the appalling situation of fighting for their right to work whilst coming to terms with their terminal illness.

‘This campaign may take time.

‘But the morality of the cause cannot be questioned and the Midlands TUC, along with our supporters will keep on fighting for the rights, dignity and respect that terminally ill worker deserve.”

“Labour MEPs are committed to taking EU action to support employees with a terminal illness,” Glenis Willmott said.

“We want to ensure that employees with a terminal illness are treated with dignity and respect.

“This surely isn’t too much to ask?”

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