Sunderland MP Sharon Hodgson calls on companies to 'think again' amid reports of 'prioritising profit' during coronavirus lockdown

A Sunderland MP has called for companies operating during the coronavirus crisis to “think again” if their workers’ safety is being put at risk.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 7:27 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 4:10 pm

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said many constituents had written to tell her that, although they were not considered a key worker, their employer was still making them go into work.

And where people are working in essential industries, there are concerns workers are not always being kept the recommended two metres apart.

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Sharon Hodgson

In an open letter to businesses, she wrote: “The Covid-19 pandemic is an uncertain time for everyone. People are anxious about their health, their finances and their jobs.

“We all have a part to play in not spreading the disease, ensuring our NHS is not overwhelmed and enabling the most vulnerable in society to be protected for at least 12 weeks.

“I have had reports that there are a small number of businesses who seem to be prioritising profit or seeing an opportunity to cash in at this time when other competitors may have shut temporarily, over the health and wellbeing of their employees.

“I would say to such businesses that I hope you will seriously think again and reconsider for the sake of yourselves, your employees, their families and yours, but also your reputation as a business and as an employer.

“Where your business is considered essential during the Covid-19 pandemic and working from home is not possible, I ask you to ensure that everyone follows the Government’s advice, particularly to stay two metres away from others at all times, and have sufficient hand washing facilities, and opportunities, to avoid spreading the virus.”

Mrs Hodgson is also one of more than 100 Labour MPs who have sign a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, urging him to suspend prescription charges for the course of the coronavirus crisis.

“This will be a particularly alarming time for patients with respiratory conditions, such as asthma,” the letter said.

“It has been widely reported that, due to prescription charges, some asthma patients have been known to have rationed use of their inhaler intake to use only in emergencies.”