The move follows weeks of negotiations between the FDF and unions on a common commitment to worker safety
The statement calls on businesses to “give serious consideration” to how they support essential workers through pay and conditions
Food and drink leaders and unions have praised companies who have agreed to pay those self-isolating at home in full.
The joint statement also urges all food and drink companies to implement social distancing measures and enhanced hygiene and PPE measures to help protect staff.
The move comes after weeks of negotiations between the FDF and unions on a common commitment to worker safety, amid accusations some companies have been putting workers at risk through a lack of protective measures which has led to walkouts by staff at some factories.
The statement, signed by the Federation as well as the Unite, Usdaw, BFAWU and GMB unions, calls on businesses to “give serious consideration” as to how they support their essential workforce through pay and conditions in what it calls an “unprecedented time”.
Measures recommended include ensuring effective and regular cleaning and disinfecting of factories, ensuring social distancing measures on site and in food production areas and ensuring the correct use of appropriate PPE.
It adds: “A large number of responsible manufacturers and unions have agreed and implemented a series of measures to make people safe in their workplace. These include appropriate social distancing, enhanced hygiene measures and personal protective equipment as applicable and appropriate.
“At the heart of all these relationships is mutual respect for the role each of us has to play in this vital national endeavour. Across the food and drink industry we are making a real difference.”
FDF CEO Ian Wright said it was vital manufacturers worked in conjunction with unions to ensure worker safety.
“If you can’t feed a country, you don’t have a country,” he said. “Workers in food and drink are the hidden heroes, making everyday sacrifices so fellow citizens can access the food and drink they want and need.
“Partnership between employers and unions has been crucial to continuing production over the past eight weeks.”
GMB national officer Eamon O’Hearn said: “There are many examples of good practice across the industry, but unfortunately there are some companies who aren’t stepping up to the plate, particularly on sick pay.
“In the current crisis it is vital that essential workers are not financially penalised for being off sick due to Covid-19; we don’t want social distancing measures undermined by workers who feel that they have to attend work when ill, and risk spreading the virus even further.
“We look forward to working across and with the industry to lobby government to identify how we can make progress on this critical issue in particular.”