Mandate Trade Union concerned by some retailers’ failure to abide by HSE Covid-19 guidelines

Monday 16 March 2020

The Mandate Trade Union has today (Monday 16th March) written to all major retail outlets in the Republic of Ireland citing concerns for the health and safety of workers and customers if shops do not adhere to the HSE Covid-19 guidelines.

Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light said dozens of members have been in contact with the union expressing concerns for their own safety and containing the spread of the virus.

In his letter to retailers, Mr Light said:

“The following are the main areas of concern;

  1. Customer overcrowding contrary to HSE guidelines for indoor gatherings.
  2. Non-compliance of social distancing guidelines.
  3. Non-provision of hand sanitiser at checkouts.
  4. Shopping trolleys not being properly and regularly sanitised.
  5. Till points/registers not being cleaned on a regular basis.
  6. Unreasonable refusal to provide protective gloves and face masks.
  7. Staff returning from high-risk areas being allowed to work.”

Mr Light explained that while some outlets may be attempting to abide by the HSE guidelines, there is a uneven approach across the industry.

“It is a matter of concern that some retailers who are parented in the UK are taking advice and instructions from the management teams there and this is totally inappropriate given that such advice is likely to be influenced by the regularity guidelines prevailing in that jurisdiction and not here,” said Mr Light.

He added, “In dealing with the various challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead we once again ask for a creative and flexible approach particularly when it comes to the application of our members’ statutory and contractual entitlements.”

Mr Light called on retailers to step up to the plate and play their part in containing the pandemic:

“While retail services are essential during these trying and difficult times, there are precautions that can and must be implemented to reduce the spread of the virus and protect workers from unnecessarily contracting it. Lives are at stake and retailers must ensure no shortcuts are taken on health and safety so that we can get through this as quickly and as safely as possible.”

COVID 19 – Employers Update 160320