Responding to the government's decision to 'tweak' the NHS Covid app to reduce self-isolation disruption, Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said the change of guidance still falls short of the union's calls for the government to exempt the automotive and steel sectors from self-isolation rules:

"Unite has been pressing the government to exempt major manufacturing from the requirement for workers who continuously test negative to isolate if 'pinged' by the test and trace app because we have very real fears that UK work will be moved overseas and that continuous process manufacturing such as steel will be seriously damaged.

"This change may make some difference but it falls short of what we have called for. Manufacturing workers share shifts so the two days decision may make little difference. Sometimes whole shifts have been stuck at home as has been the case of late. The costs are horrific to workers and industry alike and there are real concerns that work will move overseas or even that steel furnaces could be damaged, which would be devastating for this industry. We simply cannot have a situation, for example, where a blast furnace is shut down because workers are stuck at home, testing negatively daily, but forced to self-isolate.

"UK workers must not lose out because the government's reopening of the economy is incoherent.

"So I repeat the calls I made to the minister when we met last week: listen to us when we warn that the damage to UK PLC by the failure to exempt critical workers will be real and significant.

"It must also ramp up daily testing, reverse its decision to end the free provision of lateral flow tests in July and allow those who actually test positive to be placed on furlough, not on the £96 per week statutory sick pay so many are forced to accept.

“Additionally, it must reinstate mask wearing on public transport and in confined public spaces and act now to restore public confidence in an app millions are currently deleting or disabling from their phones."

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