‘Put health before profits’: Sheffield warehouse workers brand conditions a ticking timebomb

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Warehouse staff in South Yorkshire say they are risking their health to so people can continue to sport the latest fashions through the coronavirus crisis.

Employees working for the fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing and the courier firm Hermes have spoken out anonymously about working conditions which they say do not provide adequate protection during the pandemic.

One Hermes worker claimed it was virtually impossible to observe the two-metre social distancing required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as some walkways are narrower than that and conveyer belts are not always far enough apart.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Pretty Little Thing's warehouse in Tinsley, Sheffield (pic: Google)Pretty Little Thing's warehouse in Tinsley, Sheffield (pic: Google)
Pretty Little Thing's warehouse in Tinsley, Sheffield (pic: Google) | Other 3rd Party

He also told how no masks had been provided and hand sanitiser was only available at the entrance to the warehouse, not at individual work stations, though Hermes disputes that this is the case.

“I’d appeal for the managers of retail companies to put the health of warehouse staff before profits,” he said.

“We’re busier than ever because shops have closed and even more people are going online to buy clothes and other non-essential items, which make up well over 90 per cent of the orders we’re handling.

Sheffield pharmacies ask customers to be patient as demand soars during coronavirus crisis

“We don’t have a problem working if we’re processing food or medical equipment but people need to stop and think before ordering clothes online about the risk they’re putting warehouse and delivery workers at because of the number of hands every parcel passes through.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hermes said: “The Government has clearly stated that home delivery is vitally important to the coronavirus response and that our people are deemed to be ‘key workers’.

“We are extremely proud of our people who are helping to ensure that deliveries are made every day, including to the most vulnerable in society.

“Whilst this may include some clothing items we have seen a strong increase in orders for items such as hand sanitiser and soap, as well as electrical equipment to facilitate home working and schooling children at home.”The firm added that it was doing ‘everything we can’ to protect its workers’ health, with social distancing practised ‘wherever possible’, staff restricted to working in specific zones, gloves issued and hand sanitiser and wipes available throughout its depots.

Clothes shops have been ordered to shut by the Government and people have been told they should only travel to work where this is absolutely necessary but many firms which are still trading have told employees that they will not be paid if they fail to show up.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An employee at PrettyLittleThing’s warehouse in Tinsley, Sheffield, said: “There are over 300 workers there as we speak working for the company despite COVID-19.

“We work there 12 hours a day and cannot use the two-metre rule because there are so many places in which we must interact with each other to do our job.

“The company refuses to shut down the place despite the Government warnings and the situation with COVID-19 in Sheffield.

“We are a ticking time bomb in there. A pregnant woman was working there one day ago, and we have workers who are over 60. We are all upset, worried and fearing for our jobs.”

The Star has contacted Boohoo Group, which owns PrettyLittleThing, and is awaiting a response.