Unite has called on a leading technology manufacturer in Northern Ireland, Seagate, to engage positively with Unite in a health and safety initiative following the outbreak of Covid-19 among the workforce.
The Seagate workforce, based in Derry/Londonderry has been left anxious over an inadequate management response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Staff have been informed that at least three workers have tested positive and a further 15 are now self-isolating from the outbreak among the workforce of 1,400.
Unite has also encouraged Seagate workers not already in Unite to join the union, as the best way to protect themselves in this time of insecurity.
Liam Gallagher, Unite Regional Officer for workers at Seagate in Derry/Londonderry called on management at the factory to engage positively with Unite in putting in place a system of workplace infection control.
‘Fear is widespread’
“Fear is widespread among the workforce in Seagate as news has leaked out about a growing Covid-19 outbreak in the factory,” commented Liam Gallagher.
“Unite is aware of at least three confirmed positive cases and we have been informed that a further 15 workers are self-isolating but unfortunately management are refusing to engage with the trade union on the scale of the outbreak or their response.
“Given the size of the Seagate plant which employs 1,400 – any major outbreak in the factory could have devastating impact on public health – with a spread transmission across the northwest.
“Unfortunately we have been told that workers have not been given any details on this outbreak or the response taken by management to reduce risk of transmission. We understand that there has been no deep-clean of the areas potentially contaminated by infected workers. The entire situation is resulting in considerable anxiety and alarm among the workforce.
HSE intervention call
“Unite has written twice to management to highlight our members’ concerns but they refuse to respond. We are now writing to the Health and Safety Executive to request urgent intervention and the imposition of rigorous infection control procedures. While Unite at this stage does not have a formal collective agreement on behalf of our members there, this won’t stop us fighting alongside union members to keep them safe. We are encouraging any workers who are not already members of our union to join us – being in a trade union is your best defence at this time of uncertainty.
“We remind management at Seagate that under the law, workers who believe that there is clear and imminent danger to themselves can refuse to put themselves or their families in danger and retire to a safe distance. Unite will not rest until workers are reassured about the infection control procedures in place in this workplace,” Gallagher concluded.
By Donal O’Cofaigh