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Concerns raised by lack of worker protection at an NHS call centre in Scotland

TRADE UNION representatives have raised concerns about the lack of worker protection at an NHS call centre at the hub of a fresh coronavirus outbreak in Scotland. 

Today the government confirmed that 20 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in connection with an outbreak at the Sitel call centre in Lanarkshire, where staff undertake track-and-trace work for NHS England.

Staff are now self-isolating, while a further five premises – four in Lanarkshire and one in Glasgow – have been linked to the outbreak. 

In a statement, Sitel said it was actively enforcing physical distancing guidelines and that the “wellbeing and safety” of employees was a top priority. 

But the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) said concerns remained about the site, and that management needed to take some responsibility for the outbreak. 

CWU regional secretary Craig Anderson said: “There are reports [of inadequate] social distancing and cleaning levels... There are deep concerns from us. 

“As far as we’re concerned, the duty of care has been neglected. It’s simply not acceptable. 

“God forbid the worst happens – this could be corporate manslaughter.”

Mr Anderson warned that failure to follow protocol at call centres could lead to further outbreaks. 

He added: “We don’t think this has been done in a lot of workplaces, not just Sitel.

“If it’s proven that the company hasn’t obeyed guidelines, enforced guidelines with staff or coached them, it’s an absolute outrage: they’ve endangered a whole community – not just workers and family. 

“It might come back that employees weren’t socially distant, but management needs to take responsibility for the care of employees. This could end up a major problem.”

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