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Usdaw raises concerns over Government calls for online retail to be 'run as normal' while advising the population to 'stay at home'

Date: 25 March 2020 The most recent up-to-date guidance from the Government states that, ‘Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.’ Only yesterday the Government advice was that ‘non-essential businesses and premises must now shut.’
Online retail relies on people working in warehouses, distribution centres and delivering to residential addresses.  Social distancing is very difficult in all these situations and yet many non-food purchases will not be essential. The Government needs to act to ensure that workers are protected and the risks are minimised by restricting non-essential online retail.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw is clear that our members should not be put at risk, or face any detrimental impact, as a result of the Government advice. Usdaw has been working with distribution and online retailers throughout the Coronavirus outbreak. We have been working to ensure appropriate procedures as the crisis has developed and have secured a number of guarantees around sick pay and family friendly leave provisions.”
Usdaw is also making clear calls on employers to improve health and safety for people working in warehouse and distribution operations: 
  • Clear provisions for workers to keep at least 2 metres apart at all times, in line with Government guidance. This means that, for non-essential business, two-man delivery operations must cease with immediate effect.
  • Full sick pay for those in vulnerable groups and for individuals who live with people in vulnerable groups.
  • Additional sinks, provision of hand sanitiser for individuals and provision of cleaning equipment for all work stations.
  • Increased hours for cleaning staff.
  • Early shift finishes and guarantee of overtime payments where time spent leaving the site has increased due to queues adhering to social distancing.
  • Staggered break times along with extra break rooms with adequate rest facilities and additional smoking areas to ensure social distancing.
  • Flexibility and understanding around childcare issues in light of school closures.
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers