There have been a number of inaccurate and misleading statements published on social media recently concerning Medway Norse and Unite Union.

As a caring employer, we completely reject the untrue version of events presented as ‘facts’ and counter the claims on a point-by-point basis below.

The health and safety of our staff remains paramount as they deliver an essential service for Medway residents. All relevant guidance is being adhered to and we are pleased to report that all critical services in Medway remain operational.

A Group Incident Management Team is responsible for the direction of all Group operations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic with all decisions carefully considered and in line with Public Health England and Government guidance.

Wipes

Wipes have always been provided to staff. The Hand and Surface Sanitiser Wipes issued at Medway Norse are compliant with the following British and European standards, BS EN 13727, 1276 and 14345. These standards denote they are suitable for use in clinical, food preparation and general work areas for disinfection and cleansing. They contain up to 20% alcohol and are antibacterial. They are used nationwide to combat viruses, including norovirus. This means they can be used to wipe down cab areas if necessary or when crew changes occur.

Hot water and soap is provided in welfare facilities and these can be used before or after a shift and remains the Public Health England (PHE) first option for defeating the spread of the coronavirus.

Medway Norse, working in partnership with Medway Council, has agreed to keep public toilets across Medway accessible for crews, allowing them to wash their hands throughout the day.

Hand gel/sanitiser

As wipes are available, these products weren’t necessary and when the pandemic emerged, demand far outstripped supply which nobody could have foreseen.

However, we did procure them as agreed. These were ordered on April 1 and received on April 15 and distributed on April 16. Products received include hand sanitiser with 70% alcohol content.

Medway Norse stated in its original response to the pandemic and subsequently agreed by Unite, these products would be made available when they were able to be procured. We have never wavered from that position, and as stated have now been able to source and supply. This is in addition to the anti-bacterial disinfectant wipes already supplied.

Medway Norse has also implemented regular sanitisation of all cabs. In addition, we have also procured virucidal spray disinfectant for use in coronavirus cleaning regimes. 50 bottles of this were couriered to Medway Norse and issued to each of the 46 RCVs for daily cleansing of common areas. This is supported further by the employment of an external cleaning contractor who cleans all RCVs daily.

Gloves

We always have and continue to provide Nitrile gloves even at a time when these are in high demand. We have always recognised the need for gloves to be available. We continue to receive supplies of Nitrile gloves for wearing under the issued PPE work gloves.

Cleaning of cabs

Cabs are cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis. We have implemented a daily sanitisation of cabs. As an additional measure, we have appointed an external cleaning contractor to ensure cabs are kept as clean as possible.

Three in a cab

We recently agreed with Unite that two staff could go out in a cab instead of three if crews were willing to do so, and it was reasonably practicable to do so whilst continuing to deliver key refuse collections. We can confirm that should any of our employees request to only go out as a two man crew, as per our agreement on March 31 with Unite, we will continue to honour.

Masks

Guidance from Public health England (PHE) does not recommend the wearing of face masks. However, what was agreed with the Regional Officer of Unite on the 31 March was that as and when we are able to get supplies of masks, we would make these available to the crews if they wished to wear them. We have been able to source a limited quantity of masks, and these are now available for those who wish to wear one. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not recommended and not common practice in the waste industry at this time.

Guidance

Medway Norse has complied with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Additionally we continue to follow all the guidelines issued by Public Health England. We have also taken note of guidance published by the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum, together with the ongoing information and knowledge shared between us and numerous other national providers of waste services.

Where we need to make any operational changes, we always ensure we follow strict change control procedures and engage fully with our workforce.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are available to all our staff, who are engaged in their production and review.

De-recognising Unite

We have good working relationships with unions around the country, and continue to enjoy good working relations with other unions representing our colleagues in Medway. In addition we continue to have good relations with Unite in other parts of the country. We have been forced to derecognise Unite in protest at the actions of one individual regional officer who has used the current pandemic for political gain.

Contact us

If you have any questions relating to the above, please send us a message using our dedicated contact form. We will aim to respond to your enquiry within five working days.

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