Coronavirus: Greencore factory staff ‘surviving on £90 a week’ after outbreak

An employee at the sandwich factory where nearly 300 employees tested positive for coronavirus has said “it’s not easy to survive on £90 a week” as staff there claim sick pay.

Greencore employs around 2,100 people at the site in Northampton which makes sandwiches for M&S.

The company said some of its staff are self-isolating after 292 people tested positive for coronavirus.

Nicolae Macari, a health and safety co-ordinator at the factory, is self-isolating with his parents, his wife, his brother and his sister-in-law.

All six of them work at the site and they all have the virus.

He told Sky News: “If we have a situation like mine, when all the family is working at the same company and you have an outbreak there then definitely it is very hard to live with the money that we getting with statutory sick pay.

“It’s not easy to survive on £90 a week. People are terrified. I know cases of husbands not wanting wives to go to work because of the COVID outbreak.”

Mr Macari is also a convener for the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union.

The union says many of the site’s 2,100 employees are on low wages and often live together.

The authorities have said most of those who tested positive for coronavirus at Greencore had no symptoms – making it even more difficult to identify and contain the virus.

Locals and workers from neighbouring firms were getting coronavirus tests at a pop-up centre just metres from the factory.

The boss of a nearby electrical company said Greencore had been in touch with him and he feels safe.

An employee of the company said: “My boss told me look, get tested, we literally work opposite Greencore so it’s a good idea to get tested.”

So-called “COVID-19 marshalls” have been seen at the Greencore site to check employees who are still going to work are wearing masks when necessary.

Greencore has said there are social distancing measures inside the factory and regular temperature-checking is taking place.

The company said 79 workers tested positive for coronavirus through NHS tests before the company decided to bring in a private testing programme.

A further 213 positive results came back – taking the total number of positive results to 292.

Greencore told Sky News that the company is still waiting for some results to come back.

A spokesman was unable to confirm how many but said it was fewer 100.

Greencore said in a statement on Thursday: “As a result of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Northampton area, we took the decision to start proactively testing all of the colleagues at our Northampton site.

“We can confirm that a number of colleagues have tested positive for the virus and are now self-isolating.”

Lucy Wightman, director of public health at Northamptonshire County Council, said employees have been asked to “act now” after the number of confirmed cases in the town increased from 66 in the week ending 2 August to 85 for the week ending 9 August.

She said: “We are working with colleagues at Greencore in Northampton after the discovery of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace.

“Public Health England Midlands have been providing support to colleagues at Greencore in managing the outbreak.”

Coronavirus outbreaks have also taken place at food processing plants in Wisbech, Wrexham, Cleckheaton, Merthyr Tydfil and Llangefni.

Source: Read Full Article