Issue date
Trade unions have called on Welsh Government to ensure that personal protection equipment (PPE) is available to all at-risk workers, including those who work in health, social care and public transport.

In a letter to the First Minister, they have sought assurances that workers in the public and private sectors are able to access the necessary protective equipment, regardless of who their employer is. Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj said:

“We know that most employers will want to do the right thing by their workforce, but things can’t be left to chance. There will be lots of people working in settings that place them at greater risk of catching or spreading this virus, and they need to be able to access the necessary PPE. Workers can’t be disadvantaged because of who their employer is.”

Wales TUC are also calling for a hardship scheme to be introduced as soon as possible. Many workers – like those in tourism and hospitality – will already be feeling the impact of measures to manage the spread of the virus. Workers on insecure contracts (which are common in these sectors) and zero hours are especially vulnerable – many won’t be eligible for pay during periods of workplace closure.

Trade unions are also deeply concerned about the tens of thousands of workers in Wales that are not eligible for statutory sick pay. Shavanah Taj said:

“Imagine knowing that you need to self-isolate, but that you won’t get paid if you do. Taking care of your and others’ health by not going to work might mean you can’t pay your rent, afford food or heat your home.”

“People are facing this situation already and we need to make sure that they can easily access hardship payments to bridge any income gap – no one should be put at risk because there’s holes in our social security safety net.“

The TUC has published guidance for union reps on workplace issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is petitioning the UK Government to implement Statutory Sick Pay for all – sign it here