COUNCIL house repair workers have been called into work despite the coronavirus lockdown, a union claims.

Multiple sources and the GMB union have told The Argus about 20 Mears tradespeople working for Brighton and Hove City Council have been called into the firm’s Moulsecoomb depot today.

It comes despite Government guidance urging businesses only to carry out emergency home repairs during the coronavirus lockdown.

GMB organiser Gary Palmer branded Mears’s response to the coronavirus outbreak “infuriating”.


“There are about 20 people milling about around the depot sitting in their vans,” he said.

“They’ve got all the gear in the vans so they could easily work from home.

“Nobody there knows what they’re supposed to be doing but that’s just about typical for Mears.”

“To be fair to the council, they told Mears to send the staff home yesterday as they only wanted emergency repairs to be carried out,” GMB Brighton secretary Mark Turner said.

“Our reps at the depot have raised this with Mears and they’ve been told to go play with the traffic in Moulsecoomb Way."

Though Mears workers in Brighton have been told to go to work, GMB organiser Mr Palmer said the firm’s Lewes and Eastbourne employees have been sent home on full pay and will only be called out for emergency repairs.

A Mears spokesman said risk assessments were in place to ensure work was carried out safely.

"The service has been reduced to essential services only," he said.

" We have Risk assessments in place in order to carry out these works safely and operatives are being asked to continue to come to work.

"Other Mears branches are in the same position as Brighton with essential services still being delivered.

"Many of our customers are vulnerable people who will need to have their housing needs addressed as they are being asked to stay put.

"We want to complete as many of these urgent jobs as possible whilst making sure we are being responsible with the health and safety of our colleagues and tenants."

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: "At this time, only emergency repairs to our council housing, health and safety maintenance checks and repairs to empty properties are being carried out. Routine repairs are not currently taking place.

"We are carrying out empty property repairs to help us meet urgent needs to house homeless people and enable hospital discharge at this challenging time. 

"We have advised residents that when they are calling in an emergency repair, we may ask some questions around whether they are unwell, self-isolating or social distancing.

"If they are unwell or self-isolating and a repair is essential then our staff will talk to the resident about how we will carry out their repair and will use additional safety equipment.

"We have been clear our repairs helpdesk is open for emergency calls only and that residents should avoid calling us unless they have an emergency situation.

"We will continue to ensure that our contractors are complaint with Government guidance."

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