“Shut the sites, give us your PPE” – medic’s plea to construction workers

A critical care nurse working in one of London’s biggest hospitals has issued a passionate plea to construction workers to down tools … and donate their personal protection equipment to NHS staff.

Speaking to Reel News, Unite member Dave Carr addressed construction workers saying: “If you want to take pressure off the NHS, and if you want to make a difference in a fight against this virus, you need to shut down our sites, you need to shut them down now and you need to shut them down for the duration of the virus.”

union-news.co.uk has been reporting on the campaign to #ShutTheSites due to a lack of PPE and the impossibility of maintaining social distancing at work. The GMB has said it will stand by whistleblowers, Unite tooUNISON has launched a whistleblower hotline and Unite has been lobbying government ministers and industry leaders to ensure sites are safe.

Dave Carr said told Reel News:” I’m currently looking after the COVID-19 patients, they’re the sickest patients, the patients on ventilators.

“What I’d like to say to you guys in construction is that it’s a joke when we’re being told by the police to break up if we’re in groups in parks, we’re being told by the Prime Minister and Matt Hancock to stay at home, queues at the supermarket are being kept 2m apart, people are wearing masks in the street, yet you guys in construction and a lot of other non-essential industry are working as normally.

“You can’t work at a safe distance in a place like a building site where you need to look out for each other’s safety, you can’t keep a safe distance when you’re in your canteens, or your minibuses to and from work, when you’re clocking in, when you’re clocking out at the end of the shift.

“What we’re saying as healthworkers is you need to think about yourselves, your family, you need to think about the impact of you, or any of your family, getting sick on the NHS at the moment.

“Currently in the NHS we’ve moved from 850 critical care beds in London to 8,000 critical care beds. That gives you an idea of the scale of the disease, and let me tell you this virus doesn’t discriminate. It’s taking out the young, it’s taking out the old and it’s taking out everyone in between, including people that are fit, without any comorbidities.

“In some of the units in this country, there aren’t patients above the age of 50, so no-one is immune from this. The best way you can ensure your health is by not being at work.

“If you look at what’s been happening in the health service, we’ve already lost four doctors and five nurses to this disease because of PPE. Perhaps some of that PPE that you’re using could be donated to us, where we’re short of it. We’ve also lost 4,000 members of the public, and that toll is likely to rise.

“If you’re worried about your finances, this is when you need to put pressure on your unions. If they can bail out the bankers, they can certainly bail out construction workers who are currently not essential to the battle against this virus.

“Good luck, down tools, go home, stay safe and we’ll see you on the other side.”

You can watch the full interview here.

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