The bosses of the UK’s biggest four unions united to insist they would try to block No10’s plans to ease Britain back to work unless it ploughs millions more into health and safety monitoring.
The leaders of Unite, Unison, the General, Municipal, Boilermakers (GMB) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) made their warning in a letter in The Observer yesterday.
The five union barons warned they will not recommend their millions of members return to work unless the Government guarantees “the right policies and practices are in place to make workplaces safe”.
But Tory MPs blasted them for failing to support the Government’s efforts to restart the economy after weeks of lockdown.
David Jones fumed: “The unions should be supporting the Government and the people of this country in the task of rebuilding our economy as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Nobody wants inadequate standards, but it looks very much as though the unions are cynically trying to impose additional burdens on business just at the time when we need to get going again.”
In their letter, the union chiefs added: “After years of cuts, the government must boost funding for pro-active monitoring and health and safety enforcement. And we need a public information campaign so rogue bosses face sanctions.
“The trade union movement wants to be able to recommend the government’s back-to-work plans. But for us to do that we need to ensure that ministers have listened and that we stay safe and save lives at work too.”
Tories accused the unions of playing politics with the coronavirus crisis.
Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley in West Sussex, said: “So long as safety measures are in place there can be no excuse for unions seeking to prevent a return to work when appropriate.
“Unions have a duty to support the recovery of our nation’s economy out of the Covid-19 crisis, not play left wing politics.”
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