CONCERNS have been raised by warehouse workers who allege they could face disciplinary action if they stay home over coronavirus fears.

Workers at the Clipper Logistics site at Wynyard Park near Billingham have been reportedly told that any 'unpaid leave' will be treated by the firm as 'unauthorised absence.'

The Northern Echo understands that workers have become increasingly worried over staff working closely together and the prospect of being dismissed.

A site worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "There are people working on site who have a bad cough and have been coughing since last week but have remained at work.

"Management know of these people showing the symptoms, but are doing nothing about it.

"All they are telling their staff is 'wash your hands' and use the hand sanitizer. It takes more than just that.

"It seems Clipper Logistics has chosen to put money and profits before the public health and their own employees' health."

An internal email addressed to all staff that seen by The Northern Echo appeared to confirm Clipper Logistics' position on unpaid leave.

It said: 'Where there is a continuity of work, you will be required to attend.

'If you choose not to attend for work, we will respect your position but we will have to treat this as unauthorised absence (which is, as you will appreciate, unpaid).'

However, calling it a 'slap in the face' the worker said staff who were concerned about coming to work had been threatened with disciplinary action.

He said: "We've been told that the unauthorised absence will go on our attendance records, which could result in us losing our jobs.

"It is disgusting and a slap in the face to all the staff that have worked there and worked hard during peak times throughout the years for the company."

The concerns came as last night Clipper Logistics revealed it had been contracted to provide services to establish a new supply chain for NHS Personal Protective Equipment.

The firm said it had 'rapidly mobilised' its warehousing and fulfilment operations since engaging with the NHS, and that deliveries had now commenced.

  • The Northern Echo has put the workers' concerns to Clipper Logistics but has not received a response at time of publication.