Business Secretary Alok Sharma has been called on to protect the thousands of warehouse workers across South Yorkshire during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a letter to Mr Sharma, Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield city Region (SCR), has asked Mr Sharma for clearer guidance and enforcement of social distancing rules where businesses continue to operate.
South Yorkshire has 21,000 people employed in warehousing and storage facilities, transportation of freight and support roles for the sector.
The region plays an important role distributing and sorting products, keeping essential supplies moving to the rest of the country.
Mayor Jarvis said: “South Yorkshire’s warehouse and distribution workers are keeping our supermarkets stocked, our businesses supplied and our communities connected during the Coronavirus. Their hard work is overlooked and undervalued, but during this challenging time, we must appreciate their selfless efforts, which are helping countless others.
“But I have received troubling reports about social distancing practices. I have been working with trade unions, metro mayors and local authorities to protect workers’ safety and I have raised the matter with Government Ministers.
“Employers have a moral duty during the pandemic: to safeguard the health of their staff, and in turn the wider public and the NHS. I have asked them to set out what steps they are taking to protect employees’ health and safety.
“But the Government must provide clear and unequivocal guidance about the required social distancing practices. They must ensure they are implemented and take tough action where rules are broken.
“Coronavirus is going to dominate our way of life for the weeks and months ahead, so for everyone’s safety, it’s vital we look after workers who are making sure communities have the supplies they need to get through the crisis.”