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Usdaw urges retailers to put safety first when reopening stores

Date: 26 May 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw is urging retailers to work with the union to do rigorous risk assessments and ensure stores are safe for staff and customers. Usdaw has also called on the Government for tougher guidance and more rigorous enforcement of safety.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw is concerned that businesses will pay little attention to Government advice as they rush to reopen. We also have deep concerns about meaningful consultation with staff where an employer does not recognise a trade union. We urge retailers to engage with Usdaw, so that we can ensure their staff have a proper say in establishing safe working conditions.

“Risk assessments and the necessary safety measures must be completed prior to any public announcement that stores are reopening. Once a risk assessment has been completed, with the engagement of staff and that is best done through a trade union, it must be published alongside the re-opening announcement. The Government must make it absolutely clear that a business can be closed down if they fail to comply.

“Usdaw wants the Government’s risk assessment guidance to go further, so that it focusses on the need to reduce the presence of Coronavirus in the workplace. That means enhanced policies around sickness absence to ensure people with symptoms can stay off work. It also needs to reflect the significant risks faced by clinically vulnerable workers, acknowledge the difficulties faced by workers impacted by school closures and address issues over public transport and travel to work.

“Usdaw worked with the British Retail Consortium to produce joint guidance on how non-food retail can reopen, based on standards negotiated and established in food retail. That guidance was largely adopted by the Government, although they didn’t go far enough on enforcement, union engagement and transparency. So it would be deeply disturbing if retailers ignore advice and put profit before safety.”

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