Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed a call by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) for workers who cannot work from home to have priority access to lateral flow test (LFT) kits until supply problems are resolved.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says: “With Omicron cases rising rapidly, it is even more important that people test regularly if they cannot work at home and are in contact with others. But supply problems with lateral flow tests are putting workers at risk. And it increases the danger of Omicron outbreaks in workplaces shutting down vital services. The government must give priority access to test kits for anyone who is required to work outside the home, to help protect workers and the community.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Supply problems with lateral flow test kits are putting working people at risk and vital services in danger of being shut down. The Government claims there is no shortage of tests, but this morning their website states that there are currently none available.

“So we welcome and endorse this call by the TUC. Our members working in retail are key workers delivering essential services. They cannot work at home, they have worked throughout the pandemic and they deserve priority for test kits to help them and the public stay safe and well by reducing the risk of virus transmission in shops.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant is hugely concerning and reminds us all that the pandemic is not over. Usdaw is concerned that the Government has not yet reintroduced social distancing measures. This should be a key method of reducing the rate of infection and we are talking to employers about promoting social distancing, hand hygiene and the wearing of face coverings in stores.

“We also remind the public to follow the rules and respect shopworkers. Abuse is not a part of our members’ jobs and it is totally unacceptable that a significant minority of customers feel they can take their frustrations out on retail staff. We will only get through this appalling pandemic by working together.”

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