A wholesale return to work before robust tracking and tracing systems are in place will put lives at risk, a leading Cumbrian trade union has said.

The Cumbria branch of Unite, the country’s largest trade union, has said unequivocally that no workplace should open up again without an up-to-date risk assessment in place.

Any workplace that does resume operations should be regularly checked to ensure that the health and safety of the workforce is not put at risk in light of the continuing risk posed by coronavirus.

Unite’s Cumbria branch secretary Robert Charlesworth said the union was keeping a close eye on the approach being taken by bosses across the county, and was extremely concerned by reports across England that workers have been bullied into returning to work, despite their concerns over the risk still posed by coronavirus.

“The worst bosses are now ‘actively encouraging’ workers to return, with bullying phone messages saying ‘get here now or get no money’," claimed Mr Charlesworth.

“Individual workers and their families are afraid of the risk to their health but are also afraid of losing their income or jobs.

“In many workplaces without a strong union organisation the safeguards will not be effective.”

Mr Charlesworth also said that a widespread return to work should not take place until there was complete confidence that mass testing could be carried out, something he said was still a while away.

In addition to this, all workplaces, according to Mr Charlesworth, should be prepared to immediately shut down if a positive Covid-19 test is returned.

He recalled an incident last week: “Silloth primary school, which has been a hub for the children of key workers, was closed down after one of the parents was tested positive, and all children, staff and parents advised to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

“This is what should happen in every workplace.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last Friday that testing capacity was being massively scaled up, with “more than 10 million antibody tests” that check if someone has had coronavirus in the past being rolled out this week, alongside an expansion of the original testing programme.