Liverpool

Coronavirus: Worried Matalan depot staff in Knowsley can stay at home

Matalan warehouse Image copyright UGC
Image caption Workers said there was no social distancing at the plant

Matalan staff who claimed they were being put at risk from coronavirus inside a packed warehouse have been told they can stay at home.

Staff had complained about the lack of social distancing at the Knowsley distribution centre on Merseyside.

The GMB union said allowing worried workers to stay home was "a big win for the health and safety of our members".

A spokesman for Matalan said it took its responsibility to look after staff "extremely seriously".

The move would ensure that anyone wanting to stay at home would have access to government's furlough scheme to pay 80% of their wages, he added.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Unions say more needs to be done at the depot

One worker told the BBC previously that social distancing was "non-existent" at the depot and there was not enough space for staff do their jobs.

Matalan said it had increased safety measures including closing the site for three days to allow a deep clean.

"Over the past few days, we are pleased to have received approval from both the environmental health officer and a representative of the GMB, who have both visited our Knowsley distribution centre and have both deemed the site safe to work."

The GMB union welcomed the company's decision but said the union had yet to declare the site as safe.

GMB official Shaun Buckley said: "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 after sustained pressure from GMB, Matalan workers and local politicians the company is now doing the right thing."

Image copyright UGC