Sheffield union leaders form Covid-19 action group to demand better government response to pandemic

Union leaders in Sheffield have formed an action group which will demand a better response from the government on areas such as personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing.

By Alana Roberts
Sunday, 12th April 2020, 3:36 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 5:20 pm

The Sheffield Trades Union Council (TUC) called on trades unions, health professionals, campaign groups and others to come together in a wider collaboration to form the Sheffield TUC CV-19 Council of Action.

The Council of Action is an alliance which will coordinate both political and practical demands on behalf of residents in the city in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Union leaders say they will work to “defend” the livelihoods of health of workers and the community by calling on the government to make positive change – demanding they provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all frontline staff and roll out more coronavirus testing.

A Sheffield TUC (Trade Union Council) CV-19 Council of Action group has been formed in Sheffield

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Martin Mayer, Secretary of the Sheffield Trades Council, said: “The main point is to have a voice really in response to this crisis and to really speak out on behalf of, trade unionists in particular, but ordinary working class people who are suffering badly.

“For instance we know that the people who have died are disproportionately poor, from more crowded working class communities, and actually, disproportionately are from Black, Asian, ethnic minorities.

“We’ll be raising these issues, but what we want to do first of all is speak about the government’s failings in response to the crisis for instance everyone we discussed this with mentioned about PPE and testing. They are the priority issues and something we need to be speaking out on first of all.”

98 people have died from coronavirus in Sheffield as of Sunday, April 12

It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Sheffield rises to 1,137, with 98 deaths recorded in the last 24 hour reporting period.

On Friday, the UK also recorded its highest death toll on in a single day with 980 more deaths – exceeding both Italy and Spain.

The government said that 19 NHS workers have died so far.

As the death toll rises, leaders are under ever-increasing pressure to provide PPE to healthcare workers who are at risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus.

Mr Mayer, said the Council of Action will discuss more as the crisis unfolds, adding: “A few weeks ago we were all sitting in our front rooms watching the TV and seeing these horrendous figures from Spain and Italy, and actually we’re as bad as that now.

“All the signs are that the death toll is going to get higher so a lot of questions have to be asked about what the government has done up to now. We’ve had lots of promises about PPE and yet it hasn’t been delivered.

“We’ve actually got volunteer groups in Sheffield who have found the resources and are making their own PPE – how come ordinary people are doing it but the government can’t get something as simple as that sorted by now.

“Our top demand is testing, and then trace, isolate and treat. Places like South Korea and Germany are getting on top of it by testing.”