‘Workers should not be sent into danger without the correct PPE’ – Archbishop of York demands improved safety equipment

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Photograph: Richard McDougall

A minute of silence will be held today to remember the frontline workers who have lost their lives during the coronavirus outbreak.

And the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has called for action to make sure staff have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

The silent remembrance will take place at 11am as part of Workers Memorial Day – and people are also invited to light a candle this Thursday during the clap for carers event to remember those who have lost their lives while working during the outbreak.

Dr John Sentamu has called for better protection for all frontline workers – teaming up with the Trades Union Congress to ask for immediate action to protect staff.

Dr Sentamu said: “Workers should not be sent into danger without the correct PPE – whilst thankful for the efforts made so far, and saluting the bravery of those who have put up with inadequate protection, it is essential now that those on the front line against Covid-19 be given all the safety equipment they need.”

Honour key workers

A wreath is to be laid at York Minster

More than 90 frontline NHS workers are confirmed to have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leigh Wilks, president of York and District Trades Union Council, said representatives will lay wreathes at York Minster tomorrow to remember those who have died.

He paid his respects to frontline workers saying: “I think it is fitting that this year we have decided to honour those who have sadly lost their lives in the fight against this virus.

“Against all odds – including the chronic lack of PPE which undoubtedly has caused some workers to die as a result of contact with the virus – our workers in the health and social care sectors have put their lives on the line – and in many cases lost their lives as a result – and it is our duty to honour their sacrifice, which has undoubtedly saved the lives of thousands of ordinary people.”

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, said: “We still do not have sufficient PPE across all our services, and staff are still leaving home each morning wondering if they may contract coronavirus.

“It is unacceptable for any worker to be put at risk, and while I have been working constructively with employers across the city doing everything possible to prevent any risk to their workers, I am outraged that there are some employers who are not doing everything they can to protect their staff.”

Ms Maskell says she has spent “the last five weeks talking to hundreds of workers across the city who are frightened.

“‘Fight for the Living; Remember the dead’ is not a slogan, it is a call to action. Action starts today.”