Coronavirus update from Britain

This 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Respect ASOS workers

We’ve been campaigning over working conditions at ASOS’s Barnsley Warehouse for over a year – calling on the company to treat its workers with respect.

We have been told stories of workers being disciplined for using the toilet and not meeting unrealistic targets – investigations from Buzzfeed, the BBC and the Mirror have uncovered fresh concerns about working practices.

As the company today boasts of bumper UK sales over the Christmas period, please watch and share this video of our campaign so far and help tell ASOS bosses: treat your workers with respect.

From daily News Line in Britain, 1 April 2020:

‘CRADLE OF DISEASE’ – 4,000 packed into ASOS warehouse

JAM-PACKED ASOS clothing warehouse is a ‘cradle of disease’, terrified workers in the GMB union warned yesterday, calling for their entire operation to be immediately shut down.

Up to 4,000 people work at the ASOS warehouse in Grimethorpe, Barnsley – and 98% of them feel unsafe at work amid the coronavirus crisis, according to a GMB survey.

While competitors have closed down to keep the public safe, ASOS has ramped up their operations in Barnsley.

The warehouse is now processing orders from the company’s German warehouse – which has closed – and hundreds of extra staff have been drafted in to deal with the million online orders ASOS received over the weekend.

Workers report no social distancing measures, a complicated clocking in system which means large numbers of people gather in a small area, and hundreds of workers all breaking for lunch at the same time.

Almost 500 people responded to GMB’s survey of ASOS workers.

Responses include:

‘I am with high risk so if something happens to me, they will look the other way because I am not important enough. Who is going to raise my one-year-old son?’

‘It is an infectious centre, you can get the Covid at any given time. Why am I still there? I can’t live on 94 pounds per week. I cannot help my family with that. It sounds stupid but making money to live is more important than being healthy right now.’

‘No social distance, not enough sanitiser, not safe at all, I am scared to go as I have a 3 years daughter.’

‘4,000 people touching six turnstiles to enter and exit building, no working fire registers, hardly any cleaning going on in warehouse, never seen handrails cleaned.’

‘Social distance impossible to keep, the aisles are less than 2m wide and it happens many times to pass face to face with another person, you can only hope that is not going to sneeze or coughing and if he does, you can only pray that he doesn’t have the virus.’

‘If one single worker gets coronavirus then all warehouse workers (over 3,000) will get it. We are not key workers … we are used just for their profit.’

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘Conditions at ASOS are scarcely believable – workers we’ve spoken to describe it as a “cradle of disease”. It’s absolutely horrifying, a real catalogue of shame.

‘Here you’ve got people packed onto public transport, a lack of social distancing, thousands of workers going into one warehouse then back to their families – it’s only going to get worse with a huge sale promoted over the weekend.

‘The government’s scheme for furloughed workers is there to support employers to do the right thing and keep people safe. ASOS can more than afford to pay the extra 20% to help stop the spread.

‘We no longer believe ASOS can keep their workplace safe – they need to shut it down.’

By Tony Robson and Dan Richardson in Britain:

UK warehouse and distribution workers protest exposure to COVID -19

1 April 2020

Major UK retailers have kept their workers on the job in unsafe conditions since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced special measures to restrict movement and enforce social distancing.

This involves companies that are far from providing essential services, such as IKEA, the self-assembly furniture retailer, and fashion retailers Next, ASOS and Pretty Little Thing.

Following the adage, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” they have taken advantage of the suspension of High Street trading to increase their online sales. The burden has fallen on warehouse and distribution workers being made to sort and dispatch goods without any regard for their safety, including the inability to maintain social distancing and inadequate provision of washroom facilities.

Workers have taken to social media and spoken to the press, usually anonymously due to fear of disciplinary measures. South Yorkshire, in the north of England, is the site for many distribution centres, in Sheffield and other former industrial towns such as Doncaster and Barnsley and in surrounding villages on brownfield sites.

Mayor Sadiq Khan told the BBC evening news on March 30th that despite the new ‘NHS Nightingale hospital’ potentially providing space for 4,000 beds, double the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds would actually be needed in London. The new temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital situated at the Excel conference centre in Docklands, is being rapidly kitted out with beds, oxygen pipes, ventilators, electricity supplies etc. to house 500 patients to start with, expanding eventually to care for 4,000. Khan said that London needed to double that number to 8,000 beds. As there are just 800 intensive care beds in London at the moment, hospitals need to increase that number ten-fold: here.

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus update from Britain

  1. Pingback: European, Bangladeshi workers strike for their lives | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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