Argos workers' fury over 'putting their health at risk' to sell paddling pools, sand bags and BBQs

ARGOS employees have slammed the company for keeping stores in Sainsbury's open as usual during the coronavirus crisis as customers flock to buy non-essential items.

One worker told The Sun he felt the company was "risking staff members' health" by staying open.

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Under the latest government’s rules, shops selling non-essential items must close.

Argos closed its standalone stores earlier this week, but its stores which are within Sainsbury’s supermarkets remain open because they can be considered part of the supermarket, which is allowed to stay open.

Some staff who work in standalone stores have been redeployed to help these smaller stores, the retailer confirmed.

But an Argos employee who works in one such store in London told The Sun that many workers at higher risk from the virus had already been sent home and others were self-isolating.

SHOPS ALLOWED TO STAY OPEN

ONLY a small group of retailers will be allowed to stay open, they include: 

  • Supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Vets
  • Newsagents
  • Pet shops
  • Hardware stores
  • Retail shops in hospitals
  • Petrol stations
  • Laundrettes
  • Undertakers
  • Banks
  • Post Offices
  • Off licences
  • Public toilets
  • Credit unions

He said this means stores have “barely enough staff to cope”.

He added that staff in stores were being forced to share face masks intended to protect them from catching the virus.

The man, who has worked for Argos for ten years, added: “Argos stores in Sainsbury's are so tiny that the aisles are not even wide enough for two people to get past each other, so social distancing is literally impossible.”

He said when the crisis began, he expected Argos to stock more health and medical equipment but no extra stock has come in.

“Even delivery drivers, the people that should only be delivering [essentials such as] white goods are being forced to make multiple drops for items as frivolous as video games and Airpods,” he said.

He added that Argos employees had been sent a letter telling them that they were now considered key workers.

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Another employee, who manages deliveries at Argos, told The Sun he felt the company was “trading workers safety for stupid money” by staying open.

He was concerned that drivers routinely “cross the whole of the UK” in a day and risk spreading coronavirus.

He said: “The sites are understaffed due to what is happening, but the load orders are doubled.

“The depots are selling just like it's the week before Christmas or on Black Friday.

“People are buying toys mainly, and electronics.”



Other workers took to Twitter to express their outrage that people continued to buy items which are not considered essential items.

Laura Barlow, 22 from Bognor Regis, tweeted: “We have 100s of UNESSENTIAL items that we have to put away for the customers that should be staying at home. Why is Argos still open!?”

She also shared a photo of crates full of items for customers.

Another worker, Matt Bradley from Manchester, said: “All these f**ing BBQ’s, paddling pools and bags of sand we are rapidly selling are ‘essentials’.”

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A spokesperson from Sainsbury's, which owns the Argos brand, told The Sun: “The government has been clear that online retailers should stay open as part of essential retail services and so we continue to accept orders from the Argos website.

“We are strongly advising customers to only place Argos orders online.

“These can then either be delivered to their home or collected from Argos store-in-stores while they shop for essential items in Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

“Many colleagues who have been working in Argos standalone stores are redeploying to help feed the nation in our supermarkets.

“The safety of colleagues and customers is extremely important to us and we have introduced a range of measures to keep everyone safe – from asking everyone to practice social distancing, to closing every other till and collection point and providing hand sanitiser to drivers.”

Yesterday, off licences, public loos and credit unions were added to the list of coronavirus essential shops that can stay open.

And here are all the other shops which are still trading.

Most supermarkets have announced special shopping hours for NHS workers – we've rounded up everything you need to know here.

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