Give key workers priority access to lateral flow tests, TUC warns

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called for workers who cannot work from home to have priority access to lateral flow test (LFT) kits as supply problems continue.

The trade union said supply problems with LFT kits are putting working people at risk, and vital services in danger of being shut down, due to outbreaks that could be contained if tests are readily available.

The move comes as LFTs have been in short supply online, in pharmacies and from other suppliers amid record high Covid-19 cases with 200,000 people expected to become infected with the new Omicron variant alone.

However, the UK government has claimed that there is “not a shortage of tests”, despite the government site for ordering LFT’s stating that there are “none available”.

READ MORE: 336,000 retail workers risk of no income over Xmas if they fall ill, TUC reveals

“With Omicron cases rising rapidly, it is even more important that people test regularly if they cannot work at home and are in contact with others,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

“But supply problems with lateral flow tests are putting workers at risk. And it increases the danger of Omicron outbreaks in workplaces shutting down vital services.

“The government must give priority access to test kits for anyone who is required to work outside the home, to help protect workers and the community.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw, which has welcomed TUC’s call added that supply problems with lateral flow test kits are putting “working people at risk and vital services in danger of being shut down.”

“The government claims there is no shortage of tests, but this morning their website states that there are currently non available”, he said.

“So, we welcome and endorse this call by the TUC. Our members working in retail are key workers delivering essential services.

“They cannot work at home, they have worked throughout the pandemic, and they deserve priority for test kits to help them and the public stay safe and well by reducing the risk of virus transmission in shops.

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