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Coronavirus - Advice for Usdaw Members

Date: 18 March 2020 The Coronavirus situation is developing rapidly.
Dear Member
I know that you will be concerned about how to keep yourself, your colleagues and your loved ones safe during this pandemic, especially those of you who have daily contact with members of the public in your jobs.
Your employer should have guidance and procedures in place. You should ensure that you follow the procedures in your workplace and raise any queries with your manager.
Covid-19 is a new strain of Coronavirus which can cause symptoms varying from mild to very serious. Coronaviruses are spread by:
  • direct contact with a person while they are infectious
  • contact with droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, either directly or on surfaces or objects
  • through particles known as aerosols, released from the lungs
The advice on hygiene precautions are the same as those for flu:
  • Frequent hand cleaning with soap and water or, where that is difficult, use of an alcohol-based hand sanitiser which contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Using a tissue to catch coughs or sneezes and disposing of the tissue immediately when used
  • Where possible avoiding close contact with someone who is coughing and sneezing.
Wearing of masks is not recommended for most people as they do not provide much protection and can increase the risk of colds, flu and other infections if not properly used.
The Union is working with employers to ensure that our members are protected at work, and we are calling on them to ensure that: 
  • handwashing facilities are accessible
  • workplaces are kept clean
  • hand sanitiser is available wherever possible to those who need it
  • staff are properly paid and not penalised if they need to take time off.
For those working in home delivery, employers have been updating their procedures to reduce the risk of infection – these measures may include leaving goods at the doorstep and not requiring customer signatures.

We have also put out statement urging the public to support retail and distribution workers.
If you develop symptoms or need to self-isolate, you should tell your manager immediately, and ask them for information about the company’s policy on this. Your Union rep or local Usdaw official will also be able to advise you on the procedures that the company should be following in this situation.
If you are affected by school closures, we are calling on employers to be flexible and make sure that you have the support you need. Again, please speak to your union rep or local official if you have any difficulties.
When the shops are busy and stocks are running low on certain products, this may be a flashpoint for abuse against shopworkers or delivery drivers. Your employer has a duty to keep you safe at work. Violence and abuse should never be tolerated and you should report any incident using your company procedures. If you feel unsafe at work for any reason, you should speak to your manager and raise it with your Union rep.
I would like to express my personal appreciation to all of our members for all that you are doing at this very difficult time. Your role in keeping the country supplied with essentials in this time of crisis is crucial. Your Union stands with and will support you however we can.
Best wishes
Paddy Lillis
General Secretary

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