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'Hundreds of Workers' Concerned About Workplace Safety During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Cardiff, Wales, April 6, 2020 -- The two-metre social distancing guidance will come into effect this week to ensure employers "put the needs of their workforce first".

On Friday 3 April, the First Minister said the Welsh Government would introduce a new law compelling all employers to make sure their workers keep two metres apart.

The Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC) said hundreds of workers have raised concerns about workplace safety involving failure to implement social distancing, lack of protective equipment and cleaning measures, and non-essential sharing of tools and clocking-in systems.

One union has reported a number of issues at BT call centres in Cardiff, Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil. It said more than 1,500 members of staff are being told they need to attend work at the call centres, despite "grave concerns" about social distancing not being possible.

It said, "Workers are still being asked to hot-desk and sufficient hand sanitiser is not available" and "employees report being asked to come to the office to undertake non-essential work, such as sales".

The Wales TUC General Secretary, Shavanah Taj, said: "With coronavirus infections increasing, employers and government have a duty to do all they can to keep their workers safe.

"Many people who have to go into work are raising the alarm about their working conditions, including front line workers.

"We are hearing all the time from people who aren't being given proper personal protection equipment or able to socially distance. Guidance continues to be interpreted and applied in a variety of ways."

A BT spokesperson said: "Our priorities are to help everyone stay connected and to keep our colleagues safe.

"Our contact centre people are designated key workers by the government because they help keep the country connected.

"Our colleagues are coming to work only if they're able to do so. If not, for reasons such as self-isolation, we're continuing to pay them. Those who can do their role from home are doing so. However, the technological capability to operate many of our complex contact centre systems from home doesn't exist.

"We've increased cleaning and continue to ask our colleagues to protect themselves by strictly following personal hygiene measures. We've arranged work spaces at recommended safe distances and opened up communal areas to create more space, as well as providing free meals.

"We are reviewing our approach on a daily basis to reflect changes in government advice."

The TUC said it has also received concerns from care workers about personal protective equipment (PPE), construction workers and communications workers.

It is calling for employers to support staff to work from home if possible or to change workers shift patterns to allow greater social distancing. It is also calling for employers to provide appropriate PPE.

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Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Source: https://www.itv.com

Date Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2020



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