Asos accused of playing 'Russian Roulette with people's lives' during coronavirus pandemic

ASOS distribution centre near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. (Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images)

Online fashion retailer Asos has been accused of “playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives” after scared staff stopped working, claiming it was impossible to keep two metres apart and follow social distancing guidelines at its warehouse in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Staff have also complained of cramped buses and shortages of alcohol hand sanitiser at the warehouse, which can host up to 4,000 workers.

One worker told the GMB union: “It'll be like a domino effect, if one gets it, we'll all get it and people will lose their lives.”  

Another said: “They are playing roulette with people’s lives.” 

A third added: “I’m currently in isolation as I live with someone who is high risk. However, because I have been told I am not sick myself I will not be entitled to sick pay. So I’m currently off work, unpaid.” 

About 500 workers had staged a walkout on Saturday.

Read more: Some of the UK's biggest firms are pooling resources to build NHS ventilators

ASOS said: “We totally refute these allegations. We are striking the right balance between keeping our warehouse operational for the good of employees and the wider economy, and maintaining the health and safety of staff. An environmental health officer visited and was happy.”

Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, said: "I have spoken to a number of concerned workers employed at the ASOS warehouse in Grimethorpe who feel that their health is being put before profit in this national crisis.  

“It is imperative that we all do our bit to stop the spread of coronavirus, saving lives.  

“ASOS employs more than 4,000 workers in the UK. They shouldn't have to put them and their family’s well-being on the line for a pay cheque.  

“I have written to the CEO expressing my concern and will do all I can to make sure workers across Barnsley East are able to do their jobs in safe conditions.  

“We should treat workers in London and the north the same." 

Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK