THE SDLP’s Mark H Durkan has called for the immediate inspections of essential businesses to ensure Covid-19 safety guidance is being followed.
He said the enforced closures of non-essential workplaces must also be in place as soon as possible.
Said the Foyle MLA: “I have been in contact with several companies over the past fortnight, relaying the concerns and fears of employees that their working conditions are risking their health and their loved ones lives.
“We can quibble over what services are ‘essential’ but nobody can deny the one thing that is truly essential – reducing the spread of Coronavirus.
“We can see what is fast coming down the tracks- action that should have been taken weeks ago must not be subjected to further delays.
“Employers must take all measures possible to do guarantee the protection of their staff. If you cannot ensure social distancing, reduce the number of workers there then send people home, giving priority to those with health issues or vulnerable family members.
“Furthermore, we need the immediate inspections of workplaces to ensure adherence to rules but I would go further.
“Businesses should have to be able to demonstrate that what they are dragging people to do day after day, at this crucial time, is in indeed essential- if it isn’t, then it is pure and simple greed.
“There is no second chance at getting this right.
“People are anxious and rightfully so; they want their livelihood guaranteed but not at the expense of their own and their families health and wellbeing.
“We cannot allow companies to put their wealth before our health.”
He concluded: “The Executive have a duty to provide more decisive not divisive guidance to employers – we cannot afford to issue communication whereby businesses can read between the lines and make up their own minds.
“Strong leadership is crucial in managing any crisis- how they respond now will be the make or break of this pandemic.
“I am calling for a collective effort to do more to protect workers and their families.”