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Louise Haigh MP Lockdown exit: MP condemns lack of protection for workers

Following new government instructions, workers across the country are being urged back to work after weeks of home isolation. But many are now faced with a daunting transition without the promise of safety or support.

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Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh.

On 10 May the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that anyone who cannot work from home should be actively encouraged to return to work.

However, without sufficient protection and safety standards in place some believe workers are being encouraged to put their lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk simply by going to work.

"The government must put strict rules in place to ensure that all employers are keeping their staff safe, implement a public information campaign to inform workers of their rights, and properly fund the [Health and Safety Executive] to ensure that these rights are enforced," said Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh.

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Activists at Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise.

"Without this, workers cannot have faith in the government's plans."

As it stands, the new guidance for employers released by the government is lacking a safety standard or any procedure for enforcement in the workplace.

The worry centres around the fact that it is simply not possible to practice social distancing in many workplaces. PPE is often not available and if workers do get sick they will only receive Statutory Sick Pay, which does not come close to covering the cost of living.

Although the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are obliged to ensure that workplaces are safe, after years of significant cuts, the additional £14m the government has invested in the body may not hit the mark, leaving it without the ability to protect workers.

According to the Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise (SNAP) campaign, "the key to workers protecting ourselves at work is not only to ensure that we know our rights, but that we feel empowered to get organised in order to collectively demand what we should expect: respect, dignity and safety."

The organisation are creating a platform for workers to speak out about their experiences, publicly name employers who are failing their duty of care, and organise new workers in the same situation.

By distributing thousands of leaflets and posters throughout the city and identifying workplaces where proper safety measures aren't in place, SNAP believe they are bringing the issue into the public eye.

The campaign are also encouraging workers to join trade unions and be aware of their right to remove themselves from dangerous situations.

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