Unions should not oppose quarantine exemptions for critical industries – that’s according to Sir Keir Starmer who urged workers who wanted to work to take part in daily testing
As concerns continue over the ‘pingdemic,’ the government has announced that critical workers will be able to avoid self-isolation if they take lateral flow tests every day before going to work. Ministers are increasingly worried that key sectors risk being crippled because so many people are being “pinged” by the NHS Covid app after having contact with people with coronavirus.
The leaders of some of the UK’s largest unions are encouraging key workers, including in transport and food, to ignore the exemption and stay at home to protect those at work.
But this morning, the Labour leader warned unions against taking strike action over the issue. Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC Sir Keir said:
“I don’t think that is the right way. If it is possible to show that with a double vaccination and a negative test critical workers can go back to work I would support that. Obviously we need to keep an eye on how safe it is. We need to be cautious, but we do need to keep our critical sectors working and I think we should support exemptions that allow us to do that.”
Head of the RMT union of rail workers Mick Lynch responded:
“If you’re working on a train or working in a control room, and you are supposed to be isolating, you are enhancing the risk to the other people working around you, whether they’re passengers or colleagues. Surely that can’t be acceptable?”
It’s claimed the ‘pingdemic’ will worsen shortages in supermarkets. So far, only 1 in 20 dedicated Covid test sites have been opened under plans to allow food distribution workers to avoid isolation. About 25 of the 500 testing units being established at depots and distribution centres to maintain the supply of food to shops will be set up by tomorrow, the full 500 are expected to be open within a week. A further 200 will be set up for other sectors.