The Government has been criticised for not including steel in the list of sectors where firms can apply to have workers tested rather than self-isolating if they are “pinged” by the NHS app.
The list covers sectors including transport, emergency services, border control, energy, digital infrastructure, waste, the water industry, essential defence outputs and local government.
Unite national officer for steel Harish Patel said: “It is deeply disturbing that the Government hasn’t recognised that the steel industry is a critical industry.
“Unite is receiving reports that growing number of steel workers are being required to self-isolate.
“Blast furnaces have to be constantly maintained and an outbreak of Covid-19 which required large numbers of workers to self-isolate would have massive implications and could have long-term negative consequences for the affected company.”
UK Steel director-general Gareth Stace: “As a sector, the safety of our workers is of paramount importance.
“However, the increasing numbers of staff having to self-isolate is starting to impact steel production facilities, could in itself become a threat to worker safety due to the need to have a facility fully staffed.
“We urge the Government to engage fully with the manufacturing sector in the next few days to move towards a safe but workable solution to this issue.”
A Government statement said: “This is a small and targeted intervention to ensure that services critical to the safety and functioning of our society can continue.
“This means enabling individuals to attend work where not doing so would lead to major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services – including those services whose integrity, if compromised, could result in significant loss of life or casualties, and/or where there is an immediate risk to defence or security.
“This process is only intended to run until 16 August 2021, when fully vaccinated close contacts will be exempt from self-isolation. The Government will continue to engage closely on this with employers over the summer.”