As we approach the Bank Holiday weekend the nation awaits the big announcement from Government on how they propose to ease the C19 ‘lockdown.’ One of the notable developments from this crisis has been a belated recognition of the fact that trade unions not only exist but can make a vital contribution to economic and safety related issues in the national interest.
Last week the Trade Union Congress were invited to comment on a series of draft guidance documents from BEIS on ‘safer workplaces.’ The TUC continues to seek to engage quickly and constructively with government on the details of these plans, and have raised serious issues about the draft guidance and the process for consultation. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has written to Secretary of State Alok Sharma to set out these concerns, which were also covered in the Guardian and other media outlets.
While the TUC presses central government for significant improvements to whatever guidance is issued over the coming days, Napo is ready to engage immediately with the 23 employers where we are recognised to ensure that all their plans are scrutinised and risk assessed.
We simply will not buy into any notion that the risk to our members from this horrendous pandemic has miraculously reduced. Not with daily reports still showing thousands of new C-19 infections and several hundred deaths in our communities. Not, as we witness ‘Kafkaesque’ government failures to distribute the PPE equipment that has been available into the right places, and the failures (including todays news over the debacle with Turkey, for what has eventually proved to be sub-standard products) to secure new material.
Our position is clear. If a workplace is not safe to return to and there is an increase in risk to staff and service users it must not open. Unless our members feel confident that they can travel.
Ian Lawrence, General Secretary