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Published
Mar 31, 2020
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Matalan warehouse workers offered furlough following backlash

Published
Mar 31, 2020

Matalan has announced that all warehouse staff will be allowed to stop going to work during the health crisis following social distancing concerns at its distribution centre in Knowsley.


Matalan


Workers at the warehouse had claimed they were being forced to continue working in cramped, overcrowded conditions despite official advice to stay at least two metres away from other people.

The budget retailer said it will continue to operate its online business, and that workers who choose not to go to work can voluntarily go on a furlough scheme where the government pays up to 80% of their salaries.

A spokesperson for Matalan said: “Along with the rest of the retail industry, we continue to operate our online business closely following the government guidance, going above and beyond to ensure the safety of both our employees and our customers.

“Over the past few days, we are pleased to have received approval from both the Environmental Health Officer (the EHO) and a representative of the GMB, who have both visited our Knowsley DC and have both deemed the site safe to work.

“Furthermore, since these visits we shut down our warehouse for three days to undertake a deeper clean of the site. We are taking our responsibility as a large North West employer to look after our staff extremely seriously.”

GMB, a trade union, said that the furlough was a “massive win for victory and common sense”, but denied Matalan’s claims that they had declared the warehouse a safe site for work.

Shaun Buckley, GMB regional organiser, said: “This is a big win for the health and safety of our members - not to mention plain common sense. We were inundated with messages from worried GMB members in a state of panic that Matalan bosses were putting workers and their families’ lives at risk.  

But he added: “It is categorically untrue to say GMB has declared the Matalan site safe. I personally visited the site yesterday during a skeleton shift and observed social distancing measures were in place, but I've raised concerns about social distancing protocols for when the site has three hundred staff rather than a third of that number as was the case yesterday."

Matalan said it will provide staff with hand sanitiser and protective gloves as the number of coronavirus cases reaches 25,150 with 1,789 deaths.

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