Asos has been slammed by the GMB workers union for “playing Russian roulette with people’s lives” and failing to shut operations during the coronavirus crisis.
Asos, which yesterday launched a 20 per cent sale on every item on its app to encourage people to keep buying during the lockdown period, has been accused by the union of failing to implement social distancing measures creating a “hotbed of infection” at its warehouses.
The online retailer said it “totally refutes” the allegations and that they “do nothing more than serve to create panic and hysteria in an already uncertain time”.
According to GMB, a number of the 4000 workers still attending work at its warehouse in Grimethorpe have expressed their concerns over a lack of social distancing measures being imposed at the site.
Workers have raised concerns about clocking in systems which require large numbers of staff to gather in small areas, and hundreds of workers breaking for lunch at the same time.
MP for Barnsley East, where the warehouse is situated, Stephanie Peacock said: “I have spoken to a number of concerned workers employed at the Asos warehouse in Grimethorpe who feel that their health is being put before profit in this national crisis.
“Asos employs more than 4000 workers in the UK. They shouldn’t have to put theirs and their family’s wellbeing on the line for a paycheck.”
The GMB’s Deanna Ferguson added: “The situation at Asos is disgusting – thousands of people under one roof, not enforcing social distancing.
“It looks exactly like a hot bed of infection – and workers are very scared.”
In response to the accusations, Asos said: “We totally refute the allegations made by the GMB this morning. They are false, do nothing more than serve to create panic and hysteria in an already uncertain time, and are part of a continuing campaign against us and the recognised union on site, Community.
“It is simply not true to say we don’t have social distancing protocols in place and it is not true to say that we have thousands of employees working under one roof. The reality is we typically have around 500 colleagues working in our 680,000 square feet facility at any one time and we have strict social distancing protocols in place but, it must be said, it is also our colleagues’ responsibility to adhere to them.
“As directed by the Government, we, along with other online retailers, are ensuring we are striking the right balance between keeping our warehouse operational, for the good of our employees and the wider economy, and maintaining the health and safety of staff, which is always our number one priority.”