Safe work and safe travel must go hand in hand to beat Covid-19

Responding to the government's guidance on safer working in relation to the coronavirus crisis, the General Secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey said:

"We welcome the fact that the government has listened to the concerns of trade unions and reflected these concerns in this guidance. It is welcome too that this guidance is evolving and will adapt to reflect emerging concerns and challenges. 

"Importantly, this guidance signals to employers that they should work with trade union specialists to keep workplaces and workers safe.

"Union health and safety representatives are highly skilled and ready to assist the national effort to keep workers safe.  

"Again, I say to the government, there are tens of thousands of union safety specialists than can be enlisted to assist employers and the Health and Safety Executive in a concerted approach to eliminate the spread of the virus and fulfil the prime minister's call to make workplaces coronavirus secure.

"Safe workplaces and safe travel to work must go hand in hand in the strategy to beating this disease. Together, they are absolutely crucial to building wider public confidence that it is right and safe to re-awaken the economy, which we all want to happen in order to keep people at work and earning.

"However, the government is in danger yet again of sending mixed signals. In a matter of hours, construction and manufacturing workers will be expected to return to work using a transport system that cannot yet observe social distancing obligations.  

"Unite has lost transport members to this awful disease. In their honour and in honour of all those workers who have died because of coronavirus, we ask that much more is done to ensure that working people are safe to get to and from work including staggered work times.

"Crucially, employers must not pressurise workers to imperil themselves and others by crowding on to buses, trains or tubes. 

"Unite will protect every member who decides that they cannot work because either their journey to their workplace or the workplace itself are not safe."