Asos’ Barnsley warehouse “should stay open” if changes are made according to the Community workers’ union despite widespread calls from staff and the public to close operations.
Community, which has represented distribution workers at Asos Barnsley warehouse since 2017, told Retail Week that it supported the location staying open as long as changes “can be implemented and we’re satisfied they’re working”.
These changes include staggered arrivals on site helping minimise the risk of crowds during shift changeovers, which according to Asos could come into force as early as today.
In a separate statement, the union said: “We have been working with our members and the company for weeks to make improvements to the way the site operates, including introducing (personal protective equipment) and a new cleaning regime.
“We have been on site all day yesterday and are there again today listening to our members’ concerns and instructing the company to take further action to improve safety, particularly around shift changes.
“There are clearly issues across the sector, and the government needs a sector-wide approach, which would also include the operations of delivery companies. It’s the unions’ role to ensure employers make workplaces safe and if they’re not, they shouldn’t be continuing operations.”
I am a worker at Asos Barnsley. I am telling you me and my colleagues we are really afraid to go to work, it is impossible to keep a safe distance inside the warehouse
They told us his not aloud to wear mask because his not part of our uniform .We gonna die there
— Gabriel Martinesc (@GMartinesc) March 28, 2020
This comes amid widespread calls for the company to shut its operations from staff, other workers unions and the general public on social media who are going so far as to call for a boycott of the retailer.
A recent survey by the GMB workers union, found 98 per cent of the 460 workers who took part felt unsafe.
Earlier this week Asos workers walked out of warehouses where they claim it is “impossible to socially distance” at the site where workers were sat “3ft away” in numerous directions.
One worker told The Guardian that Asos informed them they “don’t have enough money to pay holiday for us so if we don’t feel safe we can go home unpaid”.
To protect jobs and the economy as much as possible, UK Government has advised online retail to stay open. As the largest private employer in Barnsley, and with the support of Barnsley Council, we're still operating with all appropriate safety measures in place. pic.twitter.com/llReXnvASI
— ASOS Here to Help (@ASOS_HeretoHelp) March 29, 2020
Head of the GMB workers union, which has largely led the charge against Asos, Tim Roache said: “Conditions at Asos are scarcely believable – workers we’ve spoken to describe it as a ‘cradle of disease’. It’s absolutely horrifying, a real catalogue of shame.”
Asos chief executive Nick Beighton has staunchly denied these claims, stating that they are “false and do nothing more than serve to create panic and hysteria in an already uncertain time.
“In line with government guidance, and with support from the Community union and Barnsley borough council, 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.”