instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

Construction staff ‘cannon fodder’ claim in sites row

Danger: Workers say social distancing is ‘physically impossible’ PICTURE: PA

CONSTRUCTION workers said they are treated like ‘cannon fodder’ — as they are forced to choose between risking coronavirus or not getting paid.

Site owners and construction firms have faced pressure to stop projects after reports of workers being unable to follow social distancing rules.

One electrician, who asked not to be named, told PA news agency that letting work continue was endangering lives.

‘We’ve got a canteen with hundreds of men in with no social distancing in place,’ he said. ‘We’re not being given basic personal protective equipment like masks, and because we were complaining that there’s no hand sanitiser, they put glass cleaner in the bottles.

‘I’m going to work knowing that potentially I’m killing my family — but what do you want me to do? Let them starve in two weeks’ time? We’re being treated like cannon fodder.’

He said that he and his colleagues fear spreading the virus and infecting NHS staff on their commute to work.

The government has told construction companies that sites can remain open if people keep two metres apart.

But one worker said it is ‘physically impossible’ not to be in close proximity with others. Another feared being ‘blacklisted’ if they spoke out.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon have urged building work to halt.

The Unite union called for ‘urgent action’ to make sites safe and protect jobs and income, adding: ‘No worker should have to make a life or death decision arising from government or contractor negligence.’

Housebuilders Bellway and Persimmon have now started shutting construction sites, following Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments.