Unite welcomes decision that construction workers are eligible for COVID-19 testing

    Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, has welcomed the announcement that construction workers are now eligible for targeted COVID-19 testing.

    The announcement was made by the health secretary Matt Hancock at the government’s daily press briefing. He confirmed that workers who had to leave home to go to work such as construction workers were now eligible for COVID-19 testing. The eligibility for testing also applies to the workers’ immediate family.

    Unite had written to Mr Hancock calling for testing to be introduced for construction workers as many had continued to work during the lockdown and a lot of sites have reopened or are re-opening.

    Unite remains highly concerned about revised operating procedures in construction issued by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which follows the intervention by Public Health England’s whose new advice waters down social distancing rules and allow workers to work face to face for up to 15 minutes in some instances.

    Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Unite is pleased that the government has supported Unite’s call to ensure that construction workers who continue to work can easily access testing for COVID-19. This will significantly help prevent the spread of the virus on construction sites.

    “Testing alone however will not stop the spread of this deadly disease. It is imperative that construction workers are able to continually socially distance from when they leave home in the morning to when they return at night.

    “The dangerous PHE guidance must be withdrawn and the Health and Safety Executive must step up to the plate and insist on procedures that require workers to social distance on sites at all times to reduce risks of infection.”