Socialist Worker

Safety gone ‘out the window’ at big distribution firm, says worker

Issue No. 2701

Workers say conditions can get crowded at Yodel distribution centres

Workers say conditions can get crowded at Yodel distribution centres (Pic: Ian Rainey)


Bosses at distribution companies are “endangering thousands” of workers with “inadequate safety measures,” according to unions.

One worker at delivery firm Yodel told Socialist Worker that bosses there still haven’t brought in social distancing measures or proper protective kit.

The warehouse worker in London told Socialist Worker, “Between midnight and 6am there’s about ten people in a very large warehouse and relatively speaking we’re well spread out.

“But between 6am and 9am the drivers come to load up—and at that point social distancing goes out of the window.

“You’re working right near where they are working—there’s no two metres at this point.”

The worker explained that some drivers had bought their own masks, but that warehouse workers were still exposed. “We haven’t had any face masks provided by the company,” he said.

“We have industrial gloves to lift all the boxes, but there’s nothing stopping them from giving us surgical gloves to wear underneath.”

The worker worries that Yodel could be a “super spreader” if they don’t bring in new safety measures.

He explained, “One of Yodel’s depots has a delivery zone that stretches from Pentonville Road in central London to Saffron Walden in Essex.

“The person who placed the order doesn’t have to sign for it on a PDA scanner any more, but there are still concerns.

“With all the cafes and shops closed, there’s nowhere for drivers to go to the toilet or wash their hands on the way.”

Risk

Yodel isn’t the only company in the sector that’s putting workers’ lives and heath at risk during the coronavirus crisis.

Five unions have accused logistics giant DHL of “showing utter disdain for its workforce”.

A statement last week by the GMB, Unite, Usdaw, RMT and URTU unions said DHL is “disregarding the urgent concerns of its staff over a lack of PPE and a failure to carry out safety and social distancing measures”.

DHL, which has 41,000 workers across Britain, has also “refused to grant full company sick pay to symptomatic workers who need to self-isolate”.

The statement added, “A company that is worth tens of billions should also be topping up the wages of those staff who have been furloughed instead of simply taking advantage of the government’s job retention scheme. DHL’s inadequate response to the pandemic is endangering thousands.”

Unions need to organise walkouts to force distribution bosses to put people before profit.


Unsafe working conditions in warehouse a crying shame

Workers at a clothes warehouse in Burnley are being made to work without protective equipment—while having to produce useless fashion facemasks.

Online clothes shop Boohoo was slammed for selling face coverings bearing coronavirus-related slogans for £5 each.

One says “If you can read this you’re too close” while another states “Eat, sleep, isolate, repeat.”

Boohoo’s website says the masks “should not be used as personal protection equipment”.

One nurse said Bohoo was “using their greed to make a mockery of people on the frontline”.

She added that the company should instead help to provide actual PPE. Meanwhile, workers at Boohoo’s own warehouse have repeatedly complained that they lack protective equipment.

The workers’ Usdaw union said it had been “inundated with serious concerns” from “terrified” workers at the warehouse. Workers say they don’t have adequate protective equipment, and that there is no proper social distancing.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said news that Boohoo was distributing useless facemasks as fashion accessories was “a real slap in the face for our members”.


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