// 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.
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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.