2021-07-13 19:12

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Johnson Removes Covid Restrictions Shifting Responsibility To Individuals And Employers

But can this strategy starting on 19th July, not backfire as we see, as many scientists are saying, a huge increase in deaths from Covid – up to 200 per day says one report. And just what are employers doing to protect their workers – very little say many workers and a recent TUC Report.

Clearly the Government is about to abdicate any responsibility whatsoever for public health and will now attempt simply to blame the public for the inevitable rise in infection rates, hospital admissions and attendance; and ultimately for the increased death rates which will occur.

Indeed, as previously reported by this website, over 100 world renowned scientists have warned the Government this will be the case.

Making it worse still, Johnson himself said there would be more deaths and infections:

"There could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th, and again as we predicted we're seeing rising hospital admissions, and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid."

In the face of this, many are asking, why did we bother with any lock downs at all, given his now clear intent, which he wanted from the beginning - herd immunity!

As for individual choice over mask wearing, personal hygiene and hand cleansing?

Workers of course are unable to determine their own judgement whether to go to work or not, once the employer tells their employees - back to the workplace!

Such is the environment created by many UK employers with regard to Covid-19 and the risks their employees face as a result; that endemic fear of both Covid and fear for their livelihoods is rife.

Too many workers risk not only their health and subsequently even those of their families and loved ones because they feel if they complain about their employer’s lack of putting the Health & Safety of their workforce ahead of profit, directly or indirectly; they will be sacked.

This fear even stops them from raising concerns with their managers, or to challenge the risky environment their employer expects them to work in.

This despite their right not to enter work areas that risk their health and safety in law via Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996

Unionsafety has had many anecdotal reports from workers within the service industries of Telecoms, Energy, Retail, and Healthcare but none of the workers concerned were willing say anything which might identify them for fear of being identified, and the consequences that may be visited upon them by their employer.

Both Hazards Campaign and the TUC have also widespread evidence of employers prepared to risk the health and in the case of Covid, possible deaths by ignoring the need to ensure ventilation and personal hygiene are at the maximum. In the case of ventilation systems, have they been cleaned, is the air filtered to the level that will block micro contaminates such as Covid-19, traffic particles etc? Are all offices and meetings rooms adequately ventilated?

But it is not just internal working areas that are of concern. Anyone facing the public or attending other premises or working outside, are also at risk if they come into contact with the public.

Here is one example of the type of problems faced more and more by some groups of workers.

Name and identifying remarks have been removed to protect the source of this report, in the hope that it will encourage other workers to stand up for their health & safety whilst at work:

I am a key worker looking after your internet and phone services. So I have seen the Covid pandemic issue from both sides.

Initially it felt as if the employer and Government were all hoping that the problem would go away!

The Government seemed slow to put things in place considering we could see what was happening elsewhere.

My employer merely said they were following the Government guidelines. Gradually access to PPE was provided and processes evolved and improved.

On jobs we risk assess on initial contact - CV-19 questions - space and ventilation, limiting the time inside to 15 minutes. Some types of work were postponed. Temporary repairs were allowed to provide service for ‘total loss of service’.

The theory was OK, the reality was somewhat different. Depending on the type of job technical engineers could be inside 80% of the time, management reckoned it would be 20%.

Adherence was mixed at first - some refused to go in full stop under section 44, others, felt obliged to provide a quality service … it was a personal choice – never enforced!

Anecdotally we heard that senior managers looked into disciplining those refusing to enter customer premises, irrespective of the risk to themselves in being exposed to Covid-19 present in the air inside premises or customers not wearing masks.

Social media conversations on the work about the potentially higher risk for these engineers were shut down with the order - ‘follow the process’ and even worse, the implication that if anyone caught Covid; it would be because of their own negligence.

Once the briefings started, they came thick and fast.

Too many jobs too few staff far too much information – a lot of staff stopped looking online overloaded with too much work... - we even had compulsory overtime during the pandemic…. Not something that sat well with an already anxious workforce.

Corners were cut

A lot of it felt like box ticking – national company policy not always suitable as geographical areas differed. Mixed messaging from all parts of the business – slapdash. It was always a bit hit and miss, lately fewer following the precautions – apathy, over-confidence, and lack of understanding.

Overall briefings were confusing, whether deliberately so or not.

Scientists warned of the need for ventilation - The Company like the Govt seemed to pick up on it much later and glossed over it. All flagged up to our Trade Unions HQ,

USRs are aware of other stuff: MASKS

There were complaints about some of our engineers not wearing masks or taking any precautions in houses by the householder.

Staff regularly complained colleagues in small buildings not masking or distancing.

There were even instances where they got shirty when reminded about masks and distancing.

Managers and contractors continued to use offices in small unmanned, unventilated buildings – unauthorised and not suitable no ventilation - no surprises a number caught Covid.

An engineer who contracted Long Covid in the workplace before precautions were in place was warned he could be managed out of the business!

All these breaches could be reported as a NEAR MISS. We saw the local incident reports but never saw national figures on infections. Whether our Union HQ did or not, we don’t know.

Data protection seems to be used more and more. I suspect there were more cases and breaches than we knew about - It makes it difficult to see the whole picture of what is going on.

The company has changed and in the middle of a transformation the Union is being ignored.

Slap in the face for key workers who have continued to support the nation providing a service keeping everyone online. Like NHS workers or British Gas with their fire and re-hire proposals. 

As with other companies and the country in general – we are heading for a lower wage, less regulated workplaces with fewer rights where we are expendable.

Another company, marginally better than others now in the race to the bottom.

It is clear that economic factors were always the driver rather than safety of staff and the public.

On reading this, it doesn't look good for the personal responsibility of worker and employer after 19th of this month.

Source: name and contact details withheld at authors request.

Pic: Bak to News icon link

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