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Coronavirus: Worker’s fears of returning to factory as McVities agrees deal to feed the vulnerable

PUBLISHED: 15:02 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 30 March 2020

McVities biscuits. Picture: Andre Langlois

McVities biscuits. Picture: Andre Langlois

Archant

Harlesden-based company McVities is working with the government to supply more than 100,000 packets of biscuits to the country’s most at-risk people.

The government sees the food industry as essential to the effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

While McVitie’s, maker of Digestive biscuits, is ramping up its efforts, one factory worker told the Times he is worried about returning after self-isolating.

A company spokesperson said strict social distancing and hygiene controls at all manufacturing and distribution sites “have been in place for weeks”.

But the father-of-three, who works on the factory floor in Waxlow Road, said: “I work in the factory and my son was unwell so I was told to self-isolate for 14 days. Now they are telling me to come back but I don’t understand the point of it. I’ve been told to go back next month but I don’t know what’s going to happen when I go there.”

He said bosses have called him and colleagues telling them to return to work after the two week isolation period ends.

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A spokesperson for Pladis, which owns McVitie’s, said: “We are clearly advising anyone who has symptoms, or is living in a household with someone showing symptoms, not to come to work.

“They are continuing to receive full pay. We are also providing dedicated support to vulnerable groups. We are completely following the government’s guidance on who should be self-isolating, and for how long. No colleague would ever be asked to return to work earlier than the government states.”

Measures at the factory include extra hand sanitiser dispensing units and two-metre distances between workers.

The cleaning regime on site has been “significantly increased” and doors have been wedged open to reduce contact with handles.

The spokesperson said: “We totally understand concerns people have about public health at this time. We wish to reassure everyone that the health and safety of our colleagues is our top priority.”

They said the work with the government to supply more than 100,000 packets of biscuits to the country’s most vulnerable “is only possible thanks to the exceptional commitment and dedication of our colleagues”.

They said the company will “continue to follow all government guidance in relation to COVID-19”.


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