Trade unions and Labour Party concerned about new safety guidelines
The Labour Party and many trade unions are concerned that the government’s guidelines for workers returning to work after lockdown restrictions ease may put their health and safety at risk.
The government is considering allowing non-essential workers to return to work, but Labour and many trade unions have criticised the government’s guidelines on new safety measures as being inadequate and vague.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said:
“People rightly need confidence that it’s safe before they go back out to work, travel or use public services.”
Starmer recommended that the Health and Safety Executive should be strengthened to adequately enforce new safety rules.
Some Conservative politicians are concerned about the restrictions on personal freedom and the cost to the economy of the lockdown. They support a return to work.
The guidelines include imposing a two-metre distancing rule for workers, limiting face-to-face meetings, staggered shifts and recommendations for physical shields. The guidelines do not give details about PPE (personal protective equipment) but say that further clarification on this matter will be announced later.
It is expected that the government will also suggest that “hot desk” systems be abolished, and workers should not share pens.
However, the GMB union has said that the guidance:
“does not adequately protect workers from Covid-19 exposure.”
The business minister, Amanda Solloway, has said that the government may be willing to make concessions. Her department was talking to unions and employers to come to a shared agreement about workplace safety.