Unions tell Johnson: no return to work until we feel safe | News from the world


Britain’s largest unions have warned Boris Johnson that they will not recommend the return to work of their three million members until the government and employers agree to a national health and safety revolution at following the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Observer, leaders of the “big four” – Unison, Unite, GMB and Usdaw – and the Union Congress say many of their members have already lost their lives “carrying people and goods, protecting the public and occupying vulnerable people ”.


To minimize additional workplace fatalities, they insist that health and safety – something they say “once ridiculed by free traders” – must be radically revised and strengthened in all workplaces if they want to support the government for easing, and ultimately ending, foreclosure.

Union leaders say that all employers should have the responsibility to prepare and publish risk assessments and indicate the measures they have taken to make work safer for their employees. They also demand that sanctions be imposed on rogue employers and demand that the government invest in health and safety inspections.

“The labor movement wants to be able to recommend government return to work plans,” they say. “But to do that, we need to make sure that the ministers have listened and that we stay safe and also save lives at work.”

Their intervention follows warnings from teacher unions on Friday that they will not support the reopening of schools until a “test, trace and isolation” system is fully implemented – something that is still far from fully operational. The letter is a testament to the dilemma the government faces as it tries to balance security and getting more people back to work. In a speech tonight, the Prime Minister should qualify the government’s message of “staying at home” which has been at the center of his calls to the public to adhere to the foreclosure.

It is understood that Johnson will say that people can leave the house for exercise and fresh air more than the only once per day currently allowed. It will present a path to gradual relaxation of restrictions when the infection rate allows and announce plans for new directives on workplace safety. Certain non-essential points of sale, such as garden centers, will be authorized to reopen.

However, Johnson will also announce tougher rules, including higher fines for those who flout lock-out instructions and plans to place those arriving on flights to UK airports in quarantine for 14 days. The prospect of the measures sparked immediate controversy, with the Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee saying it would have a “devastating impact” on the aviation industry and the economy in general.

Cleaning of an intensive care unit.

Staff clean an intensive care unit. Photography: Neil Hall / AP

The number of deaths from Covid-19 in the UK increased by 346 to 31,587, which is still the highest of all European countries. A separate figure, the number of deaths involving Covid-19 that have been recorded, currently stands at 33,021. The true figure would be much higher.

Some 215,260 people tested positive, an increase of 3,896 cases since Friday. A total of 96,878 tests were completed on Friday, the sixth consecutive day that the government has not met its goal of 100,000 tests per day. Scientists warned last night that it would take a while for new infections to fall into the hundreds – the level they say is necessary for contact tracing and isolation to work effectively. Experts estimate that the current level of 4,000 new cases per day would overwhelm the system.

“Reducing the number of new cases to a few hundred a day is a reasonable number,” said Professor Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh. “However, given the current rate of decline in Covid-19 infections, it will take a long time before it drops to that level. And that’s a real concern. Some estimates suggest that it may take an additional six months of foreclosure to reduce the number of new daily cases to hundreds.

Woolhouse said other approaches could be taken. One would be for the government to introduce a new, very severe version of the lock, such as the one imposed in China. Another would be “to really get to know contact tracing,” said Woolhouse, who is one of the UK’s leading infectious disease experts: “Otherwise, I don’t see how we’re going to go any further and get out. situation. “

Downing St insisted that Johnson was determined to proceed with “maximum caution” – despite mixed reports last week about easing measures starting Monday. One source # 10 said, “This is a critical time – so after carefully assessing the evidence and examining the data, the Prime Minister will speak to the public and ask for his determination as we continue to do everything that is necessary to overcome this devastating disease. “


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