I am writing this open letter to reiterate the critical status, urgent needs of our industry and how we can support the country in this emergency, writes David Stevens, CEO of the Textile Services Association (TSA). Hospitality Laundries
Following the government's announcement yesterday, we expect a significant number of hospitality laundries to shut down due to the closure of the hospitality sector they serve. Almost 15,000 workers will be given leave or laid off while they are working to implement all government support measures introduced to assist their employees during the closure. This may lead to problems where laundries have customer operations in their nursing homes, private hospitals and other key service providers.
We are aware that some hotels can be opened as indispensable workers' accommodations or can become temporary hospitals. In order for our industry to support these operations, we need to understand the extent so that we can coordinate an industry solution. After all, these hotels, which are being turned into makeshift hospitals, would require a completely different approach as the risks to laundry operators increase. In addition, such facilities would have to be operated as a healthcare facility using a specialized healthcare provider.
The industry still needs to clarify the details of the system. The main concerns are:
- If someone is on vacation, we need to make sure that the liabilities for returning to work and restarting are minimal and can be gradual
- Non-contracted employees – urgent clarification is required here – we have thousands of employees with variable working hours
- Can be taken into account that the staff can be partially on leave. This would allow laundries to continue working with reduced staff, and in the event of closure, key personnel could maintain the operational status of the facility for reopening for 4 days of vacation, but the equipment remains in good condition one day a week
- Can directors who are employees and full-time employees be given leave? We have many small businesses where the directors are operational members of the team
- Suspend the accrual of vacation money while on vacation as companies are unable to pay a lot of additional vacation money when they return
- We need a clear understanding of the potential expected increase in demand. The Textile Services Association is pleased to be included in these contingency plans so that we can prepare the industry and ensure continuity of service. How many major workers' hotels are likely to be set up?
Healthcare laundries and essential services (food and pharmaceuticals)
The situation here is very different from that of laundries in the hospitality industry. In general, they are busy and do an excellent job of maintaining services for the NHS, private health and essential services. However, we see serious operational problems on the horizon.
- Some operators in this sector are struggling to keep the full workforce and we need to create an incentive for experienced laundry professionals in the hospitality sector who are on leave to switch to the health sector
- Access to PPE generally seems to be getting through, but we need to make sure that it stays that way
- Assistance in commercial price adjustment when increased costs can be fully justified and verified. We see a dramatic increase in demand for peeling tops and pants as hospitals move nurses from health uniforms, which are usually self-care based, to an outsourced, validated hygiene uniform. (Something we have been campaigning for for 10 years!) We are currently preparing to increase production in the UK, but the costs will be significantly higher compared to offshore. Another example would be when laundry needs to increase thermal or chemical disinfection. Lifting the climate protection fee would help cover that.
- We need a clear understanding of the potential expected increase in demand. The Textile Services Association is pleased to be included in these contingency plans so we can prepare the industry and ensure continuity of service as to how many emergency beds the government wants to add. Laundry, bedding and clothing are an essential element of a provisional hospital
- Laundries and support services (soap suppliers, machine and field technicians, etc.) must be specifically included in the list of essential services. The moment we understand that we are involved, this is not clear and can lead to misinterpretation.