Unions threaten strikes after coronavirus lockdown lifted unless workplaces proven safe

Unions threaten strikes after coronavirus lockdown lifted unless workplaces proven safe

Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed today that proposals are being looked at to target companies with sanctions if they fail to make their workplaces safe. Mr Hancock told Sky News plans have already been drawn up.

As the UK continues to fight against the global pandemic, the Government is looking at ways to continue to enforce social distancing as talk of lifting lockdown restrictions take place.

Mr Hancock said: “There are discussions about those and there’s a draft set of proposals but I don’t want to prejudge those discussions that Alok Sharma is leading with the unions.

“There’s already rules in place that we’ve brought in to deal with the crisis.

“It’s about how we make sure that the rules that exist and the guidance that exists both work practically on the ground for employers and also keeps people safe.”

The Health Secretary went on to add it is “critical” for employers to “offer safe workplaces” and said talks are ongoing with firms and trade unions.

He added: “It’s critical that employers offer safe workplaces.

“We’ve been working with employers large and small and the trade unions in getting these details right.

“As and when more people get back to work, there’s guideline and rules in place so workplaces can have safe distancing and social distancing in the workplace.”

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“This is why ministers must require every employer with more than five employees to go further and publish their risk assessment and action plan on their own website and a Government portal.”

The GMB union General Secretary John Phillips added: “The guidance has to be clear on how safe working practice is to be enforced, as it stands, there is nothing on PPE, nothing on enforcement to ensure workplaces are safe and nothing giving workers the assurances they need to get back to their jobs.

“In its current form, this guidance does not adequately protect workers from COVID-19 exposure and as a result many may refuse to work to avoid putting themselves and their families at risk.”

According to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, the UK has overtaken Italy’s coronavirus death toll.

There were 29,710 deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales up to April 24 including 5,890 in care homes, ONS data shows.

The total is higher than Italy’s toll which stands at 29,079.

The ONS total is 34 percent higher than the 22,173 reported by the Government for the same period.

This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of COVID-19 on a death certificate and are based on the date that deaths occurred.

The Department of Health figures are based on when deaths were reported and are for deaths where a person has been tested positive for COVID-19.

The Prime Minister is expected to deliver a roadmap to easing the restrictions in an address to the nation on Sunday.

The announcement will follow the Government’s compulsory three-week review of social distancing measures on Thursday.

Published at Tue, 05 May 2020 16:05:00 +0000