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By Stephen Powis
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Unions warn they will tell workers to stay home unless safety demands are met

The unions have called for strict sanctions for those flouting the rules (PA)

2 min read

Four of the UK’s largest unions have warned they will tell their three million members to stay home unless the government commits to a health and safety overhaul.

Leaders of Unison, Unite, the GMB and Usdaw have joined forces with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to call for new measures and stricter sanctions.

In a letter to the Observer, they said: “The trade union movement wants to be able to recommend the government’s back-to-work plans.”

“But for us to do that we need to ensure that ministers have listened and that we stay safe and save lives at work too.”

Their demands include requiring employers to conduct stricter risk assessments and report their measures for protecting workers.

Calls for stricter sanctions for those flouting the rules and expanded health and safety inspections were also included. 

It comes after the TUC said last week that it had “urgent concerns” about the Government’s plans to get Brits back to work. 

The trade union body noted that the official guidance stated that ”employers should consider” certain safety procedures but also suggests employers can decide to ignore that advice.

Meanwhile, teachers’ unions warned on Friday that UK schools should not be reopened until the new ‘test, trace and isolate’ policy was fully rolled out. 

Their concerns follow suggestions that schools could be reopened in June, as the Government considers how it will relax the lockdown.

Boris Johnson is expected to outline the next stage of the UK’s response to the pandemic in a major TV speech on Sunday night.

The ‘stay at home’ message is set to be replaced with a new ‘stay alert’ slogan, accompanied by a five-tier warning system to indicate the scale of the virus. 

Restrictions on outdoor exercise are also reportedly set to be relaxed, while international travellers will be required to enter a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to the UK. 

The UK currently has the highest death toll in Europe and is second worldwide to the US, with a current figure of 33,021.

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