David Gardiner, a paramedic, trade unionist and Workers’ Party representative, has called for the safety of essential retail workers to be guaranteed at work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gardiner, the party’s representative in Dublin Mid-West, said:
“This coronavirus has shown just how heavily society relies on ordinary workers like thewarehouse operatives, the shelf stackers and the cashiers to keep things up and running. Without their labour, we wouldn’t have the essentials that we need to survive.”
He continued, calling on the government to require that essential shops safeguard health in the workplace.
“These vital workers need to have adequate protection from COVID-19 for society tofunction. Though some employers have provided the likes of latex gloves and protective screens to workers, many have been left wanting.
“The state must make it obligatory that shops protect the wellbeing of workers by supplying them with the appropriate protective gear.”
Gardiner also appealed to the state to ensure that their guidelines on social distancing are adhered to.
“Shops must also be required to ensure that they keep staff on the doors to make sure that no more than one hundred people are on the premises at a given time. That figure has to include staff as well as customers to remain effective in combating the spread.”
“Non-essential shops and services like clothes shops, cafés and bars, should be heavily penalised for forcing workers to work. Any non-essential business which demands workers to present for work, and where an employee becomes ill, should be severely fined.
“All low-paid essential workers should receive a pay dividend for the service they are providing, and the risk they are taking.”
The party has previously called on the government to establish a ministry for securing supply chains.