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What about the other key workers? | World news

Owen Jones rightly highlights the vital work of cleaners and other frontline workers in the fight against coronavirus (The undervalued heroes of the coronavirus crisis need our thanks – and our support, 21 March). Cleaners have for decades, to use the business jargon, been deemed “non-core workers” by both public and private corporations, and their work has consequently been outsourced. This has had the (intended) effect of saving money by driving down their pay and conditions compared with “core workers”.

An example is on the London Underground, whose 2,000 cleaners are outsourced and despite playing a vital role protecting passenger safety every day, and during the current crisis, have vastly inferior conditions to their directly employed colleagues.

As Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan can do more than just thank these hidden heroes – he can bring them back in-house and in doing set an example to the rest of the UK of how we truly value these and other essential frontline workers.
Mick Cash
RMT general secretary

The late Sir John Sulston was right to point out that brain surgeons are held in high esteem, but would be unable to do their job without someone to clean the theatre. In so many ways we are all key to the smooth working of society.
Audrey Butler
Cheadle, Cheshire

I don’t feel you have given a balanced perspective on the argument for Pets at Home employees to be acknowledged as key workers (Pets at Home under fire for coronavirus key worker claim for staff, 22 March). Closing Pets at Home during the coronavirus crisis would be like closing my local Tesco Express; my guinea pig would starve. I live in a city centre and my only access to pet food is through Pets at Home. If I can’t go to my local Pets at Home, and if the alternative home deliveries become severely delayed or disrupted, I will have a case of animal illness, neglect and cruelty on my hands.

Pets at Home is the only major pet store in my area. It is a lifeline for pets and owners at this time, and it is a thoughtless backlash from social media and other critics to suggest that pet supplies are non-essential.
Lucy Matthews

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