Covid Scotland: Staff at Amazon Bathgate site ‘terrified’ after outbreak

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DRIVERS and staff working at a Scottish Amazon site have urged the firm to close it down following a Covid outbreak.

People working at the retail giant’s Bathgate warehouse have said they are “terrified” of catching the virus, but have been told they have to go in to work.

Some drivers, who are self-employed and therefore cannot be furloughed, have had to quit their jobs as they feel so unsafe.

They also told The they are concerned they could become superspreaders as they deliver packages all over the central belt.

It comes after an outbreak of coronavirus at the online retailer’s Bathgate warehouse last week.

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Sources at the site say that while office staff have been told to quarantine and work from home, warehouse staff and contracted drivers are still required to attend.

It is understood that the outbreak started in an office at the warehouse, with six people testing positive for coronavirus last week.

Two dozen who are said to have been in close contact with the others have been told to quarantine.

However workers say there are still people at the warehouse who could have been exposed.

Speaking to the , one contractor, who did not want to be named as they feared they would lose work, said: “They’re saying that 24 people who were considered in close contact had been told to self isolate but that isn’t the case at at.

“All the managers for all the agencies meet in the office in the morning to discuss the day ahead. The office staff have been told to work from home, after multiple of them tested positive but all agency managers are still meeting on site and mixing with the staff after being in close contact with the people who tested positive.”

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Another warehouse worker said: “We’ve been told we have to come in, basically because if we weren’t there there wouldn’t be anything going out.

“Its out of order, to be honest. I don’t see how it is possible that the office staff are told they should work from home for their own safety, but it’s still okay for some of us to still come in when there has been an outbreak of Covid on site, and people could have it who are still working there now.

“Some people have shielding relatives or vulnerable people they live with, but they’re in the position where they can’t afford not to come in to work if they’re not being furloughed or the company hasn’t told them to isolate.

“They wouldn’t be eligible for anything from the Government in this situation, so what are they meant to do?

“Even staff who don’t have vulnerable family members are uneasy because these parcels and drivers are being sent all over the place. What if they became superspreaders? It seems completely illogical to have some workers on site but others not when we know there has been an outbreak.”

Warehouse Deals Manager Richard Woods in the Amazon depot near Dunfermline, the UK’s largest on Cyber monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year..

A driver, who works for a contractor which provides delivery personnel to Amazon, said that he was told there was “nothing that can be done” about the situation.

The man said he was considering quitting his job, and other colleagues have had to do so as they have vulnerable relatives and do not want to risk exposing them to Covid.

He said: “I’m technically self-employed, so I can’t be furloughed. If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid but I have to go to the depot where there has been an outbreak, pick up parcels that people have handled, who have probably been in contact with others who have the virus, and deliver them all around Glasgow.

“I don’t see how this can be safe whatsoever.

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“I’ve considered using my holidays to just not come in, but if the place doesn’t close down then the virus could still be circulating, and then who knows when it will be safe to go back?”

A spokeswoman for Amazon UK said the company was “supporting the individuals who are now in quarantine” and said there had been rigorous safety measures put in place since the start of the pandemic.

She added that testing is available “on a voluntary basis” once per week for contractors and staff.

She added: “Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings.

“We have implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect associates including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in our sites, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries.

“Safety is our top priority at Amazon, which is why at the onset of the pandemic we moved quickly to make more than 150 COVID-19 related process changes.

“This includes supplying masks, gloves, thermal cameras, thermometers, disinfectant spraying in buildings, increased janitorial teams, additional handwashing stations, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and COVID testing at our sites.”

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