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ASOS disputes GMB survey and keeps warehouse open

21 April 2020

The union highlighted feedback from warehouse operatives at the huge warehouse operated by ASOS in Barnsley.

However, ASOS says an environmental health officer, who has visited several times, confirmed he was happy with the protocols the online retailer has in place and the warehouse has stayed operational.

According to the GMB survey, ‘up to 98% of employees feel unsafe at work amid the Coronavirus crisis’.

Responses included: 

“I am with high risk so if something happens to me, they will look the other way because I am not important enough. Who is going to raise my 1-year-old son?” 

“It is an infectious centre, you can get the COVID at any given time. Why am I still there? I can't live on 94 pounds per week. I cannot help my family with that. It sounds stupid but making money to live is more important than being healthy right now.” 

“No social distance, not enough sanitiser, not safe at all, I am scared to go as I have a 3 years daughter.”

“Social distance impossible to keep, the aisle are less than 2m wide and it happens many times to pass face to face with another person, you can only hope that is not going to sneeze or coughing and if he does you can only pray that he doesn't have the virus.“ 

“If one single worker it contact corona virus all warehouse workers (over 3000) we will get. We are not key workers.....we are used just for them profit.” 

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “The Government’s scheme for furloughed workers is there to support employers to do the right thing and keep people safe. We no longer believe ASOS can keep their workplace safe – they need to shut it down.” 

ASOS strongly refuted the union’s allegations.

It said all appropriate social distancing measures were in place at the time of the survey (late March) and that extra measures have been taken as the pandemic and advice has developed. It says its warehouse staff are not eligible for furlough as there is still work to be done. 

It also says GMB doesn’t speak for its staff and is not recognised on site. Its recognised union is Community.

An ASOS spokesperson added: “We totally refute these allegations. 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. Since the lockdown, we have introduced a range of additional health and safety measures and the Environmental Health Officer, who has visited several times, confirmed he was happy with the protocols we have in place.”

You can see a detailed breakdown of the safety measures introduced by ASOS here.