A SCOTTISH Government minister has reported media giant Sky to police over coronavirus fears at its Scottish offices, the Glasgow Times can reveal.

Trade Minister Ivan McKee was acting in his capacity as the local MSP when he contacted the single force about conditions at CityPark, the east Glasgow contact centre used by the global corporation to sell subscriptions and mobile phone SIM cards and handle customer cancellations.

In documents seen by this newspaper, senior executives insist they are doing everything they can to protect the workforce, including enforcing strict social distancing measures.

But evidence provided by a whistleblower shows how some staff are seated at stations less than two metres apart. Using a measuring tape, two workers found the distance between them was just 1.6m.

And an inside source told us how – three weeks after lockdown began – many are still required to go to the city offices and lack the equipment needed to work from home.

Glasgow Times:

The former tobacco factory is a short 15 minute walk away from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, with many Sky workers using the same public transport as hospital medics. It’s feared the shared transport links could increase the spread of the virus and put frontline health staff at risk.

On March 30, Sky told McKee it aimed to have half of all staff working from home “by mid-April”.

In his response, he said they “have not grasped the seriousness of the situation”, stating: “Effective reduction of transmission rates will mean the difference between thousands of deaths and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths. By keeping your contact centre open, you are putting the health of your employees, their families and vulnerable people within society at risk. I have had no option but to notify police.”

It is understood that the matter is now being investigated by Glasgow City Council, which is responsible for ensuring employers comply with the new rules.

Sky says work at CityPark is “essential” to maintaining lifeline telecoms services. It has introduced an automated system designed to weed-out non-vulnerable callers, as well as additional cleaning and alterations to the shift pattern to ensure fewer staff are on site. Individuals entering the premises have their temperatures taken at the door.

Glasgow Times:

But a whistleblower said: “The work we are doing is not essential. We’re supposed to be dealing with vulnerable customers only but we’re getting people who just want a better deal. We’re still selling SIM cards. We’re putting our health at risk for these calls. We’ve been told it’s business as usual, but we’re in a pandemic. I don’t mind doing a day’s work, but we should be doing it at home.”

The Scottish Government asked all non-essential premises to close as far back as April 4 and leaked documents show how Anne McLaughlin, SNP MP for Glasgow North East, wrote to a Sky director to say that Scottish ministers “do not share your view that the staff you have on site are essential to business critical functions”, adding: “I urge you to comply with Scottish Government guidance and close down your operation at CityPark immediately.”

Last night Sky said keeping the public “connected, online and informed” is “critical”, stating: “We’ve reduced the numbers of staff who come into our contact centres to around 30% of usual volumes.

“For the reduced number of staff at our Glasgow contact centre, we have rolled out rigorous social distancing plans and temperature checks within the office, as well as increasing workplace cleaning on a daily basis.”


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