Frustrated staff claim Devon factory is putting orders before safety

Angry staff at a Devon factory claim their safety is being sacrificed in a rush to fulfill orders, putting profit ahead of coronavirus concerns.

But bosses at SFL Flues and Chimneys – formerly known as Selkirk – in Barnstaple deny the claims and say that some of the orders will be going to both the NHS and Ministry of Defence (MoD).

SFL managing director Flavio Buccianti has denied claims that there is a shortage of hand sanitiser gel and paper towels at the factory on the Pottington Industrial Estate.

But workers on the shop floor say making chimneys is not an essential service and claim they are being treated differently to office staff and have been posting signs around the building.

A source told Devon Live: “These signs have been popping up around the factory from an angry worker.”

The signs read: “SFL – Where our profits mean more than our people” and are hashtagged Covid-19; Not Kind; Get to Work and Stop Moaning – ending with an expletive.

One member of staff claimed: “There is a serious issue here with them placing profits before safety. After all, making chimneys is not an essential service.”

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But the management denied the allegations. In a statement to Devon Live Mr Buccianti said: “The decision to keep the factory open has not been taken for commercial reasons but in compliance with government guidelines for manufacturing industries. In addition the company has orders to fulfil where the end customers include premises for both the NHS and MoD.

“In respect of COVID-19 procedures we are following government advice including, but not limited to, enforcing and monitoring social distancing, hygiene protocols and, where practical, have implemented home working.

“Despite a national shortage of hand sanitiser gel we have been able to source adequate supplies and, along with foam soap, it is available at all wash stations.

“We have regularly consulted directly with our Trade Union and met with key employees to address their concerns.

“The health and safety of our employees has been and remains our priority.”

You can read the full story here on Devon Live.


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