Co-op Travelcare staff swelter as shops reach 40C

Co-op Travelcare staff swelter as shops reach 40C

STAFF at five Co-op Travelcare stores in East Yorkshire contacted health-and-safety inspectors after temperatures in their agencies soared to over 40C.

The workers were forced to call in expert help after complaints to head office about the sweltering heat in the stores were ignored.

Staff said Co-op bosses were told of workers feeling faint and customers walking in and straight out because of the tropical temperatures but no action was taken.

When agents called in the local council's health- and-safety officers, a thermometer reading showed temperatures of between 30C and 40C in most shops. At one shop the reading was over 40C.

Guidelines from the Workplace, Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 advise that employers should ensure the environment is reasonable and comfortable with "comfortable" being defined as between 13C and 30C degrees.

The five stores affected, in Bransholme, Hessle, Hedon, Anlaby and Springbank west near Hull, were all formerly part of the Fiesta Travel group which Co-op Travelcare bought early 1998. All have been refurbished and rebranded since the acquisition but did not get air-conditioning. Instead they had mini portable air-conditioning units put in which staff say are useless in combating the summer heat.

A staff member said: "The working conditions we are expected to put up with are appaling. The heat is intolerable and what is the self-proclaimed 'people's champion', the Co-op, doing about it? Very little. Are we to wait until somebody is very ill before it pulls its finger out?"

He added male staff were told short-sleeved shirts were on order but they have never arrived.

A Co-op Travelcare spokesman said the company was doing a costing exercise for air-conditioning and new shirts would arrive in September

A spokesman for Co-op Travelcare staff union USDAW said: "There's no maximum temperature but employers have an obligation to make their staff comfortable. Unfortunately some are more concerned with running the business."

n See Letters page 8

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