Socialist Worker

Warnings at company at heart of Covid-19 spike

Issue No. 2716

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The firm has been blaste for poor health and safety (Pic: Richard Says/Flickr)


A logistics firm at the centre of a spike of coronavirus was slammed for poor health and safety at the beginning of the crisis.

At least 51 workers at an Iceland food distribution centre, run by XPO Logistics, in Swindon have tested positive for the virus. 

The Wiltshire town has the tenth highest infection rate in Britain with 24.4 cases per 100,000 people, just behind Manchester’s rate of 24.5.

A spokesperson for XPO Logistics said that “protecting our employees is our number one priority”.

In March the GMB union had raised concerns about workers at XPO’s warehouses in Milton Keynes. The union said working practices “clearly run counter to the government’s structures around social distancing”.

Richard Owen, a GMB regional officer, said, “Although some measures of social distancing have been introduced in communal areas, some workers are being forced to work in close proximity to each other within the restrictive confines of the picking areas.

“I wrote to the company, expressing dismay at the company’s continuing commitment to keeping the warehouses running while not complying with the social distancing requirements.

“The attitude of ‘We’ll keep going until we’re ordered not to’ is completely irresponsible, and puts everyone at risk.”

The union argued that workers should have been furloughed. 

XPO runs two warehouses near Milton Keynes—LVMH which processes orders for retailers of cosmetics and Marston Gate which handles Adidas sportswear and shoes.

The spread of the virus at the Swindon warehouse shows the dangers of working during the pandemic

There should be no return to work until it’s safe and all those doing essential work should have proper protective kit and health and safety measures in the workplace.

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