Charlie is an USDAW Rep in a large format Tesco store in London

Tesco’s response to the pandemic has been unusually clear, and provides a firm starting point for those of us wanting to ensure greater protections on the shop floor now and better pay and conditions when this crisis starts to subside.

We’ve been given paid leave to self-isolate up to 14 days, and our vulnerable colleagues (everyone who needs a flu jab, or is pregnant or over 65) have been given 12 weeks paid leave to make sure they stay safe.

Gloves, masks, and hand gel should be available to anyone who feels like they need them, and there’s a one-way one-in-one-out system in operation across all stores, and barriers are being put up around the tills.

This all sounds pretty good, but here’s the catch:

The paid leave is based on core hours and isn’t available to the 45,000 new starters! In order to protect our staff and our customers, it should surely be the case that everyone we work with should be able to isolate themselves without worrying about paying for food or rent. We demand full paid leave, based on average hours worked, for all staff working in Tesco.

Despite the clarity of the policy, however, some line managers or even store managers think they know better! I’ve heard reports of managers refusing the 12 weeks paid leave without the letter from the NHS declaring them “extremely vulnerable”, despite this leave being available to all vulnerable colleagues; line managers have been encouraging staff to come to work despite the fact they should be self-isolating; store managers have been ignoring the social distancing policies and bragging about how much money they’re making.

This is unacceptable. If this is happening in your store, talk to your USDAW Rep and your colleagues around you. File grievances against your managers and refuse to work unless the policies are properly implemented, or better still, until they’ve implemented what measures you’ve agreed with your colleagues that you want in place, regardless of how much further they go than what head office wants.

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