Union officials representing hundreds of North Staffordshire warehouse workers say they have won their fight for safer working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Concerns had been raised that employees at Asda George’s distribution centre, in Chesterton, were unable to abide by social distancing rules.
They complained about having to continue to work for George clothing despite clothes stores being shut.
Workers also claimed they had been ‘packed’ onto buses and sent to other sites as far away as Warrington and Skelmersdale where they say they ‘spent more than an hour in cramped conditions’.
It led to a petition being launched calling for for greater staff protection at the Lymedale Business Park site to be closed.
Now the GMB Union is claiming victory after working with Asda to conduct virtual inspections via live video-feed and daily health and safety walks.
The company is now handing out welfare packs containing mental health advice and community support information to colleagues who are vulnerable and in isolation.
GMB organiser Samantha Warburton said: “The workers at Asda have taken back power in the workplace.
“They rallied together and fought for the safety of their colleagues.
“This is a brilliant example of ordinary people sticking together and winning justice.
“Once again GMB reps in the workplace have organised, inspired and won. We never stop fighting to protect our members. Only when workers join a union can they protect themselves from greedy bosses.”
The news comes after an Asda worker in Chesterton was struck down with coronavirus.
The employee – who has not been named at his family’s request – was taken ill on Friday, April 10 with suspected Covid-19.
He was fighting for his life in intensive care at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
An Asda spokesman today refuted some of the GMB’s claims.
He said: “The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues at the Lymedale depot has always been extremely important to us and we have taken numerous steps to ensure this, which is why we are surprised and disappointed in this statement from the GMB, which is not factual.
“We have stringent measures in place to make sure stores and depots abide by government social distancing guidelines which we have always adhered to when using buses to transport colleagues to our food sites for additional support.
“We have been transparent in showing how we are ensuring social distancing in the depot and on coaches and have worked with the GMB on conducting virtual inspections as colleagues help play a role in ensuring George products are delivered to over 600 stores with the range on sale.
“We will always do what we can for our colleagues, so should they feel any symptoms of coronavirus, we are asking them to self-isolate and are providing them with full pay. We decided as a company to introduce the keep in touch packs to support those colleagues while they are away from the business.”