Coronavirus: Wilko accused of failing to protect “terrified” staff

Wilko GMB Covid-19
Wilko denies all allegations
// Wilko criticised for putting health & safety of staff and shoppers at risk during the coronavirus pandemic
// The GMB alleges that staff are “terrified” to work at the Wilko branch in Leek

Wilko has reportedly been accused of failing to keep staff and shoppers safe during the coronavirus crisis but has since hit back at union bosses to defend its position.

The GMB alleged that staff were “terrified” to work at the Wilko branch in Leek, North Staffordshire, StokeonTrentLive reported.

The trade union expressed concerns around the availability of hand sanitiser, issues over the use of card-only tills, and the management of queues at the Brook Street store.


It also accused the retailer of not paying employees for self-isolating without a government letter.

GMB organiser Samantha Warburton said Wilko workers were “terrified” for their own health and their families.

A Wilko spokesperson told Retail Gazette: “We are deeply concerned by this accusation and immediately checked in with our team members in Leek and can confirm everything possible is being done to protect both our team members and customers when people shop with us.”

“We’re extremely thankful to all our team members in Leek for their dedication with this. Their robust implementation of all additional safety & protection measures have been formally recognised by our Environmental Health Primary Authority.

“Right from the outset of the pandemic, team member and customer safety in our store has been and remains our number one priority.

“We’ve followed all government guidance relating to coronavirus, we’ve introduced enhanced cleaning, social distancing measures including internal & external signage and marshalling, protective screens for our tills, are operating card only tills and are closing the store earlier at 5pm to allow shelves to be cleaned and re-stocked.

“Team member wellbeing is extremely important to us and in the spirit of care we have asked team members receiving a letter from the government to make us aware so that we can provide the appropriate support for their circumstances.”

This is not the first time that Wilko has been accused of ill-doing by the GMB.

Last month, Wilko’s decision to cut sick pay for distribution and retail workers sparked a “massive public backlash”.

The retailer denied that the cuts were related to Covid-19.

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  1. When your area manager tells you to push sales of DIY, gardening and lottery during a global pandemic that has killed thousands and is easily transmitted, you know that the company you are working for have absolutely no regard for store staff welfare. Irrespective of want they may say to the union or the press.
    I have seen staff terrified in my store, bursting into tears, having to use their holiday allowance or go off without pay to avoid being exposed to Covid19. Wilko will not supply PPE to staff, they say it doesn’t work, just wash your hands instead. The screens at the till only went up three weeks ago and yet this virus has been in the UK since January and those screens are 2 feet wide. Totally inadequate. There are floor markings for social distancing but guess who takes the flak when customers don’t want to adhere to it? Not the managers. No, we are supposed to just take being coughed on because that is what is happening. As for essential cleaning, that doesn’t exist. With more than 20% of the work force off there isn’t anyone to do it anyway. They make it sound like we have teams of guys in hazmat suits come into store spraying disinfectant. WE DON’T.
    It won’t be long before there will be deaths. I did not sign up to die for my job role in Wilko selling paint and compost to idiots.

    • Totally agree with what you saying. Wilkos should be ashamed of their selves. We are understaffed underpaid and their so called new tills are a joke. The covid crisis just gave us even more stress for the already stressed staff. It’s the worst place I have ever had the misfortune to work for. Their only saving grace is the kind hardworking staff.

  2. I work for Wilkos and everything you have said is correct I couldn’t of said it better myself. When will Wilkos learn to do the right thing. They are a disgrace. They make out they are doing the right thing but they are not. They should shut all their stores to keep their staff members safe, instead of thinking of money all the time. The people that are making these decisions about staying open etc are sitting at home safe on their computers while we are risking our lives so someone can buy non essential items like make up, cushions etc it’s disgusting. What is a price of a life???

  3. Will Wilko staff get tested like the government suggested for Coronavirius as members of my family work the company in two different stores.

  4. What they don’t tell you is that it’s their minimum waged staff that are having to clean the stores as well as doing their normal duties. And the “extensive” cleaning is being done using Wilkos antibacterial wet wipes! The staffs bonus for putting their health at risk has been spent on their TV advert

  5. I travel up and down for my job, and after visiting multiple stores, I must say I feel very sorry for their staff. The door marshaling is done by store staff not a security guard. Also it appears to be anything goes as some stores are only allowing a handful of people in, whereas other stores are letting large amounts in so its impossible to keep your distance from each other. This is also made worse by the lack of staff, so the queue for the till ends up snaking back up aisles, and again causing social distancing issues and impossibility. The screens are only on one part of the tills not the part where the customer stands, places and packs their shopping, so if anything it encourages the customers to get closer to the staff. Also the tills are so close together in most stores that’s its impossible to pass another customer at another till without almost touching them, so again it’s not meeting social distancing guidelines. But when questioned in store, the response is “these are just guidelines, not the law. We don’t have to follow them to the letter or at all, but have chosen to do so for customer and staff protection”. It’s a joke.

  6. My mum work for wilko herself and i bring in to the store in Ilford and they are terrible they not limiting customers come in and out the store plus they don’t give their team any of the equipment apart from the last 2-weeks when been giving the team hand gel. they doing every other till don’t mean that’ dont 2 metres a part plus they put little glass on their till points but the customers to come to closed to the side and it’s do not save for a team.The screens at the till only went up 3 or 4 weeks ago. And all your staff who works in this store put in danger putting the the self at risk and their families two

  7. I am sorry but I work in a pharmacy we didn’t have screens or masks till about 4 weeks ago we have clean our store not cleaners we don’t have a security guard and we limit customers unfortunately it’s the virus so leave wiko managers alone it’s your job

  8. Those screens they have sent out are an absolute joke. They do nothing, they had to send out an addition ‘support’ piece just to stop them flopping around when someone bumps them. Most customer stand to the end of the till so the second they step out of the 50cm directly across the center of the till area they become COMPLETELY useless.
    My store have given each staff a decent amount of hand sanitiser, given staff more choices about what they are willing to do (e.g. working on the tills or shopfloor, day time, evenings, marshalling), our manager is a pretty decent person thankfully and goes out of their way to make us all feel comfortable coming to work, limiting customers allowed in the store etc. But the company as a whole? feel like all they’ve done is throw out some crap so they can say that they’ve done something. Its not good enough.

  9. We’re now in the second wave of the virus and Wilko still hasn’t learned any lessons. They’ve increased the amount of customers they’re letting in at any one time but reduced the amount of cashiers so that they can have self service checkouts which are useless plus you can’t tell a customer who is serving themselves to hurry up and move faster. The queues for the tills are nearly as bad as the queues outside the shop, social distancing seems to have been completely forgotten, the staff are being stretched and stressed to the limits and getting verbally abused by rude obnoxious customers. We did get a small bonus back in the summer but it’s quite clear that that was a one off, you would have thought they could have closed boxing day like some of the other retailers as a thank you to their staff and to give them some quality time with their families but no, it’s all about making as much money as they can so that the upper management can get their fats bonuses this Christmas!!

  10. I have been working at wilko nearly 2 years now I totally agree with all that’s been said we got a email from our store manager saying we are not allowed to challenge anyone who walks into our store or refuse entry if they are not wearing a face mask, also we are not being supplied with any handsanitiser on tills as need to sell it to customers, we get abuse daily in the store, & when other retailers couldn’t sell diy or gardening stuff we were selling out of stuff & thought customers were meant to be buying essential items so we should have closed off areas, as for bonus at Christmas our managers recieved bonus but we received Christmas day off, I was horrified when they are now stopping our sick pay, what’s next 0 contracts.


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