Branch Secretary : suz.muna.unite@gmail.com
  

Lack of social distancing for Mears housing maintenance workers

Business as usual not good enough

 

Our branch, along with Unite nationally, has experienced a growth in membership during the Coronavirus crisis and more members are stepping forward to act as health and safety reps.

 

Workers understand the vital importance of combining together to ensure safety, and to make sure employers do not act irresponsibly.  We have successfully persuaded reluctant employers to introduce safe practices and there is a resource on this website to support new reps.

 

We have sent a joint letter to government with the Unite branch organising Thirteen Group. Unfortunately, more examples of employers behaving disgracefully are coming to light daily. Below workers employed by Mears on local authority contracts are being put in danger; Mears also has contracts with housing associations.

 

Placing health in danger

 

Unite is warning today (Friday 10 April) that “a business as usual” approach is placing the health of workers employed on housing maintenance contract in Kent and Sussex in danger during the coronavirus pandemic because of a lack of social distancing.

 

Fears for Mears workers

 

Unite represents workers employed by Mears on Crawley council’s housing maintenance contract and also workers at East Kent Housing which covers Canterbury, Dover, Thanet and Folkestone councils.

 

The workers are concerned that as they have been designated as key workers that they are still expected to undertake routine housing maintenance work and work on void (empty) properties.

 

No social distancing

 

Workers report that social distancing is non-existent as they regularly come into contact with fellow workers and residents.

 

The workers believe that they should only be undertaking emergency repairs and that workers should be furloughed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Unite has raised the workforce’s concerns with the company but has been rebuffed.

 

Real fears

 

Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett said: “Our members at Mears have real fears that they are needlessly being potentially exposed to coronavirus.

 “Mears are telling the workforce that it is business as usual because they are key workers and this is what the client - the councils - is demanding.

 “That is simply not good enough and housing tenants in Crawley and East Kent will be alarmed that workers who are operating in the vicinity of their homes can’t socially distance.

 “Mears needs to insist that a safety first approach to the health of its workers is taken, with some workers being furloughed and only emergency work undertaken.”

 

April 10th 2020

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