Pressure grows on government to shut building sites

Pressure is growing on the government to close down building sites after a weekend where images of crowded sites were shared on social media and politicians called for all non-essential work to stop.

union-news.co.uk on Friday reported how Unite was seeking evidence of crowded sites, with assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail saying: “Workers’ safety is of paramount importance.”

Over the weekend people shared images on social media of construction sites that appear to be not complying with social distancing.

Blacklist Support Group joint secretary Dave Smith supported Unite’s campaign for evidence, tweeting: “If you’re being forced into work in a non-essential job – who is looking out for your health? Your boss? The government? The HSE? No, it’s only yourself & the unions. Working people need to rediscover our own collective strength, because no-one else is going to fight our corner.

“Any union officials or safety reps who are negotiating with managers about how to keep non-essential workplaces open should first and foremost talk to their members to find out what they actually want to happen. Then reconsider whether continuing production can genuinely ensure the safety of workers and their families, or is it primarily intended to protect company finances.”

Political pressure is also growing, with more than 100 MPs signing a letter urging the Prime Minister to shut down construction sites and call centres amid concern that workers are unable to distance themselves from each other.

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey, who signed the letter, said: :There are workers on construction sites, in warehouses and in call centres who have gone to work this week, putting their health at risk. The government needs to be clear about what is ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ work.”

You can send evidence of unsafe workplaces to Barckley.Sumner@unitetheunion.org.

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