Britain’s largest trade unions are threatening the government to tell their members to refuse to go back to work unless there are policies in place for safe working practices.
Union leaders of Unite, Unison and the General have written an open letter to Boris Johnson demanding that there are guarantees “the right policies and practices” are in place.
The Observer published the open letter to the Prime Minister on Sunday which had many other unions also urging the government to enforce safety in the workplace and funding.
In the letter to The Observer, the unions wrote, “After years of cuts, the government must boost funding for pro-active monitoring and health and safety enforcement.
“And we need a public information campaign so rogue bosses face sanctions.
“The trade union movement wants to be able to recommend the government’s back-to-work plans.
“But for us to do that we need to ensure that ministers have listened and that we stay safe and save lives at work too.”
General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, Mick Cash, warned on Saturday, “There is a headlong dash to lift the lockdown on our transport services for the 18 May and it is fraught with danger for both passengers and staff alike.
“To maintain the government’s own social distancing guidance would mean huge logistical and staffing input to manage passenger flows onto trains and it is imperative that all staff involved in this process are properly protected.
“RMT will not compromise on the health, safety and livelihoods of our members and we will not agree to anything that fails to put the safety of staff and passengers first.
“If that means advising our members not to work under conditions that are unsafe and in breach of the government’s own guidelines then that is exactly what we will do.”
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said, “The messaging from this government throughout this crisis has been a total joke, but their new slogan takes it to a new level.
“Stay alert? It’s a deadly virus not a zebra crossing.”
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