A FACTORY employee at a Marks and Spencer plant has died after contracting coronavirus after 70 workers examined constructive.
Some 139 workers have been off work and an additional 69 have been self-isolating after the foremost outbreak on the manufacturing unit, which provides M&S salads.
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Unions are demanding Bakkavor Tilmanstone manufacturing unit close to Dover, Kent is closed for a deep clear after a surge in Covid circumstances in November.
Infections greater than doubled from 35 within the third week of final month to 79 by the tip of the month, based on figures launched by the GMB Union.
GMB declare workers have been solely advised to put on face masks following stress earlier this 12 months.
The positioning is assumed to make use of greater than 800 folks, however many are workplace workers who’re working from dwelling.
Workers continued to work on the manufacturing unit ground all through the pandemic as they’re labeled as key staff.
GMB says anybody pressured to self-isolate ought to nonetheless obtain full pay for a COVID-related absence and has demanded mass testing to all workers.
GMB has launched a proper collective grievance in opposition to Bakkavor, which has 24 factories round Britain and likewise provides to different main grocery store chains.
The corporate was criticised in the summertime at one in every of its different websites at Newark, Nottinghamshire for failing to implement social distancing and face masks guidelines.
We’ve got now seen the virus sweep via the manufacturing unit at an alarming price in simply over 4 weeks
GMB union organiser Frank Macklin
GMB organiser Frank Macklin mentioned regardless of 25 per cent of staff being affected both via an infection or isolation, Public Well being England had not stepped in.
He added: “Bakkavor Tilmanstone Salads had solely skilled just a few constructive circumstances of COVID-19 earlier than November, however we’ve now seen the virus sweep via the manufacturing unit at an alarming price in simply over 4 weeks.
“Sadly, the manufacturing unit has now suffered a COVID-19 associated fatality. GMB want to categorical our deepest sympathies with this worker’s household at this troublesome time.
“GMB has requested the ability shut to permit mass testing of staff and a deep clear of the manufacturing unit.”
The union believed “the well being and security of our members has been critically compromised on the manufacturing unit”, he added.
In response Bakkavor mentioned “stringent security controls” have been in place and workers had additionally been briefed on travelling safely to and from work.
A spokesman mentioned: “Sadly, one in every of our colleagues at Bakkavor Salads Tilmanstone has just lately handed away after contracting COVID-19.
“At this early level within the investigation there isn’t a proof that this case was contracted within the office.”
The agency already had “very excessive requirements of hygiene, in depth security measures and good manufacturing observe” for the reason that begin of the pandemic and had been working with Public Well being England for the reason that pandemic started”, the spokesman added.
M&S mentioned it has decreased the quantity of inventory it’s taking from the Kent website whereas the outbreak is being contained.
Bakkavor says it has been working its personal inner observe and hint course of, has enforced mask-wearing and studies virus circumstances to PHE South East.
The corporate would help mass testingif PHE South East referred to as for it.
The agency mentioned anybody off work would obtain Statutory Sick Pay, together with those that are self isolating.