People Before Profit Cllrs Eamonn McCann and Shaun Harkin said,
“Local councils have an important role to play at this time of pandemic. Councils are responsible for the enforcement of safety measures in offices, call centres, hotels, cafes and other workplaces.
So far, neither the HSE nor any other relevant NI agency has been doing this adequately.
The 11 councils should step in now in relation to the workplaces where they have enforcement powers. These include call centres, retail outlets, leisure facilities, hotels, guest houses, residential homes, undertakers, religious events, hair-dressers and others.
People Before Profit has raised this issue repeatedly but we are now at the height of an unprecedented crisis. Too many workers have been forced to work in unsafe conditions throughout the Covid-19 crisis. It’s time for action across all these areas.
We started campaigning on this many weeks ago. We have encouraged workers to contact Derry and Strabane Council officials regarding workplace health and safety concerns. We have called for Council staff to be reassigned to carrying out workplace inspections.
At the recent full Council meeting, we proposed that this become a priority, because of the pressure workers are being put under to return to work.
We are raising the issue again today and will continue to raise it. The relevant authorities have a duty to enforce safety.
Throughout this crisis we have been guided by the idea that public health and safety should come first. We are opposed to a chaotic and dangerous attempt to force workers into workplaces without public health guidelines in place.”