Coronavirus Updates

01/05/2020

Helping our people get back into their jobs safely.

Over the coming week or two, you may notice us beginning to re-open areas of our business as we play our part in helping the nation get back to work safely.

Today, we want to assure all of you in our local communities that we are doing so with careful planning and consideration for our employees’ health, wellbeing and livelihoods as well as for the communities we operate in. We take our responsibility towards our employees’ health, wellbeing and livelihoods very seriously and this remains our top priority and we only move forwards with our employees’ full consent.

We have been open and honest in our outlook during this crisis, always acknowledging that this has been a steep learning curve for us all. However, it is through all the experiences and lessons we have learned over the course of these past six weeks that we are now in an even stronger position to begin helping our people get back into their jobs safely.

In some parts of our business, we have had to adapt to maintain operations throughout the pandemic where we are part of the key supply chain in support of food production in Aquaculture and this has been a valuable experience which we and others can learn from.

In these circumstances, as challenging as they have been, we have been very well equipped to maintain our operations safely, have continually acted responsibly in line with government guidance, and have been regularly engaging in two-way communications with our staff to ensure continuous improvement on the safety measures that we have in place.

"The whole team is taking responsibility for keeping working areas clean and we are all aware of two-metre distancing. With it being such an unusual situation to be in, it is good that we are being asked to feedback to our Health and Safety manager about the measures we have in place so we can keep improving if we need to.”


Zena Thomas, Gael Force Employee. Source: gaelforcegroup.co.uk/latest-news/employee-study-zena-thomas/

Underpinning our commitment to support our objective is our COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy. The policy outlines a series of important measures in the various workplace settings across Gael Force to support the safe distancing and thorough hygiene required of us all to minimise risk and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

We are confident that implementation and practising of the measures in our policy is enabling us to carry out our work safely and we continue to closely monitor its implementation by keeping our employees engaged in continual improvement measures through regular health and safety audits of our sites. Where our employees are returning to work, we are re-inducting them into the new safe working environment by thoroughly briefing them on our COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy and site-specific measures that are in place.

Once again, we thank all of you, our key stakeholders, for your support and understanding during these difficult times while we do our utmost to protect our people, protect jobs and support our communities.


 

14/04/2020

Our employees have been working in challenging circumstances over the past few weeks and all towards a common goal – to stay safe at work while continuing to support food producers with our products and services so that they can safely grow the fish that makes its way to so many dinner tables.

Where our employees can work from home, they are doing this, but some jobs mean that some staff need to travel to their workplaces.  To protect our employees and the wider public we have been working extremely hard to ensure we follow the social distancing and hygiene protocols set by the government.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be sharing some of our employee’s stories about how they have been dealing with their own personal challenges and how they are getting on with the job in hand.  Follow the stories here.


 

10/04/2020

In worrying times like these, everyone will be facing their own unique set of challenges.  That’s why we are taking our responsibility to protect every individual employee’s health, welfare and livelihood very seriously.  We want to update you on what we have been doing to fulfil our commitment to our people and stakeholders, whom we value while continuing to play an important part in the food production supply chain.

Millions of people continue to carry out their work, in difficult circumstances, keeping the country going by supporting critical supply chains.  This week, Scottish Government Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP recognised the aquaculture sector by offering his thanks for keeping the supply lines open.

"All of you have played a part: from the fish farmers to the hauliers, from the vets to the processors and from the divers to the wellboat operators and entire supply chain – everybody involved in Scottish aquaculture has shown how important they are, continuing to deliver more than one million healthy meals to people through-out Scotland and the UK, every single day.”


Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Tourism, 8th April 2020

Scottish Government guidance is completely clear to us - to carry out our work supporting critical food producers we must follow the measures required of us to protect lives and stop the spread of the virus.

In our response to the outbreak last month, we acted promptly to identify high risk workers and moved them out of the workplace and where it was possible for our staff to work from home, we enabled this to happen. We have acted with flexibility and understanding to those employees with children at home and helped support them during school closures.

Where it has not been possible for employees to work from home, staff have been working extremely hard to follow the social distancing and hygiene protocols. To reinforce this guidance in our workplace, we implemented our new COVID-19 Safety Policy early last week, a policy which was developed with the input of our employees and updated with everyone’s input this week. We are confident that the policy is keeping us safe at work, however, we are continuously taking feedback from employees on areas for improvements and conducting regular H&S audits of our sites as we all learn to deal with getting safely through this pandemic and out the other side.

We know that the difficult changes our production and distribution colleagues are having to make to their daily work routines has been tough for them to bear at times – their grit and determination to work through this challenging situation has been remarkable. Later this month we will reward their efforts with an additional payment in their pay for April and an additional paid “rest day” for those adopting the new and challenging ways of working in our operations. We have also announced that in support of the company and the wider workforce, our Directors have elected to take a pay cut during this difficult period.

Adapting to the new norms of social distancing and other preventative practices has been a steep learning curve for all of us. This remains a challenging period for many, however, the response from all our employees to this crisis has been exceptional.

We are immensely proud of all our people at Gael Force for their efforts and wish to thank everyone for their support and understanding during the difficult times we are all working through together.

 


 

30/03/2020

Times like these are far from normal...

In these challenging times that we are all currently living through, we know that some of you will be seeing areas of our business still operating and wondering why.

Our key objective from the outset of this situation has been to support the welfare and livelihoods of all employees. We will be honest with you, this has been hugely challenging in rapidly changing circumstances. But we are absolutely determined to deliver for our staff on this objective.

Like many millions across the country, we have been continuously following guidance given to us from the UK and Scottish Governments. UK Government guidance is clear to us; “every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.”

But we understand that we can only carry out our work if we follow the measures required of us to stop the spread of disease. Therefore, we have taken the following measures to date:

  • We immediately identified staff in high-risk groups and moved them out of the workplace.
  • Where it is possible for our staff to carry out their work from home, we have enabled them to do so.
  • We immediately closed our retail shops temporarily in line with government instruction.
  • For the significant number of our employees who work in manufacturing and are unable to carry out their work from home, we have been adapting to unprecedented new ways of working. We are practicing, as far as is practicably possible, social distancing and thorough hand hygiene. We have more to do and we will review and improve these safety measures continually.

"The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work.... Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.”


UK Government Website - 29th March 2020. Source: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

This is a worrying time for those staff who cannot work from home but by working safely and responsibly we can work collectively towards a common goal - to protect our health, welfare and livelihoods of all employees’ while continuing to support food producers so that they can safely grow the fish that makes its way to so many dinner tables and provides part of the nation’s food security - particularly vital at times like these.

To our employees and their families, please be assured that the health, welfare and protection of your livelihoods remain our number one priority and we will continue to adapt and improve daily, the measures we have in place to achieve that and follow government guidelines as they are updated.

To the local communities that we work in, we stand ready to support you in whatever way we can, and we will be gearing up this week to do just that and making contact with our local communities.

We appreciate your support and your understanding during these tough times.

Stay well and stay safe.

Gael Force Group