By Rachael Grealish
Recent figures show low paid workers are more likely to die from COVID-19, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Last week the ONS’s report showed that BAME workers were more likely to succumb to the virus and figures released today showed low paid workers were more likely to die – even over care and health workers.
In the ONS report it showed compared with the rate among people of the same sex and age in England and Wales, men working in the lowest skilled occupations had the highest rate of death.
There was a rate of 21.4 deaths per 100,000 males (225 deaths) and men working as security guards had one of the highest rates, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000 (63 deaths).
It continues to say healthcare workers, including those with jobs such as doctors and nurses, were not found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19 – this is compared with the rate among those whose death involved COVID-19 of the same age and sex in the general population.
John Phillips, Acting GMB General Secretary, responded to the figures calling them ‘horrifying’.
“These figures are horrifying, and they were drawn up before the chaos of last night’s announcement,” he commented, “If you are low paid and working through the COVID-19 crisis you are more likely to die – that’s how stark these figures are.
“Ministers must pause any return to work until proper guidelines, advice and enforcement are in place to keep people safe.”
While Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said they were ‘alarming’ and stated lessons need to be learned’.
She said: “These figures are alarming and it is imperative that we learn all the lessons possible now and when this pandemic is over that there is a full public inquiry into these deaths.
“We must never forget this is not about statistics, but each and every death is an individual tragedy where a loved one has died.
“While lessons need to be learned for the future, it is immediately imperative that all workplaces examine these figures and urgently revisit how more effective measures can be taken to protect workers who have remained in work or who are returning to the workplace. Thorough risk assessments are vital and government needs to make sure they happen.
“This is only an early snapshot of this dreadful disease but it is clear that lower paid workers often from a BAME background have been at the greatest risk of dying during the pandemic.
“An inquiry is needed to understand if measures such as the lockdown was introduced too late and whether front line workers were able to effectively socially distance at work, if effective cleaning regimes were in place and if workers were provided with the necessary PPE to properly protect them.”
A full report of the ONS statistics can be viewed here.