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ASOS defends hygiene at warehouse after union claims it is "insufficient"

Lauretta Roberts
14 May 2020

ASOS has defended hygiene and safety standards at its Barnsley warehouse after the GMB Union demanded a temporary closure and deep clean following a number of coronavirus cases among its staff.

There have been nine confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus at the facility, which employs 4,000 staff, but ASOS said there was "no evidence" that staff had contracted it while at work. The company said the percentage of cases among its staff was "significantly lower" than the national average and that of the Barnsley metropolitan area.

An ASOS spokesperson told the BBC: "Of the people affected, close to half had not been on site for more than two weeks before testing positive for the virus, and all have self-isolated at home, in line with government guidance.

"As the health and wellbeing of our staff is our number one priority, we are maintaining our social distancing protocols, which in many areas exceed the latest Government guidelines issued this week, and communicating regularly with staff, the recognised union, community, and the environmental health officer, who has visited the site and verified our approach numerous times over the past six weeks.

"Since these cases came to light, we have proactively contacted the local environmental health office to provide a detailed briefing on the situation."

The GMB Union has written to ASOS founder Nick Robertson, who is no longer an executive board member but remains a non-executive director, to demand a temporary closure of the facility and a deep clean.

In a statement GMB Organiser Will Dalton said: "ASOS has remained open and active throughout the current crisis and lockdown, putting into place only minimal safeguards following pressure from GMB Union.

"Now, in light of confirmed coronavirus cases, they must close while a deep clean is carried out. We continue to call on ASOS to provide adequate PPE and implement effective social distancing."

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