The four largest UK unions and the Trades Union Congress have said that they will not recommend their members return to work unless health and safety regulations are overhauled.
As the COVID-19 lockdown is eased, more companies are expected to reopen. The four big unions, Unison, the GMB, Usdaw and Unite in a letter to the Observer, said that they want a nationwide revolution on health and safety before their members return to work.
In the letter, they accuse free marketers of mocking health and safety. They want all employers to publish risk assessments and introduce procedures to make work safer. They want tough sanctions on employers who do not have adequate health and safety policies and recommend that the government fund more safety inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Unions leaders announced that:
“The trade union movement wants to be able to recommend the government’s back-to-work plans, but for us to do that we need to ensure that ministers have listened and that we stay safe and save lives at work too.”
Workers expect that social distancing will be enforced, and, where appropriate, PPE (personal protective equipment) should be worn. There is also concern about how public transport can enforce social distancing.
The government is under pressure from both sides; people who want the lockdown to be lifted as soon as possible, and those who want the lockdown to continue until there is a dramatic fall in new COVID-19 cases.