Bernard Matthews offers free bus travel to staff after car-sharing blamed for Covid outbreak

A poultry company that linked an outbreak of Covid-19 to car-sharing by staff has made buses to its facilities free after a union said fares had nearly doubled.

Thirty-six people have tested positive for coronavirus at the Bernard Matthews site in Holton, Suffolk.

After the Unite union said fares had risen from £3.50 to £6, the company said there would no longer be a charge.

The firm said it had scrapped fares to keep staff safe.

On Monday, a joint statement from Bernard Matthews and Norfolk and Suffolk public health officials said food production and safety at the turkey processing plant were unaffected.

Bernard Matthews, which employs 1,000 people at the plant, said it believed the cases were linked to car-sharing.

‘Fast-moving situation’

Unite said the bus fare rise came into force on 3 August, and had encouraged workers to car-share.

“Low-paid workers, essential to food production, deserve to be treated better during the current health crisis,” it said.

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said: “This is a fast-moving situation and we are keen to do as much as we can to help our colleagues during this unsettling period.

“Therefore it was decided this week… that with immediate effect, there will be no charge to use the company-subsidised buses to all Bernard Matthews facilities.

“This decision will be continually reviewed and we would remind colleagues it is absolutely essential all appropriate Covid-secure measures are taken when using the bus, including social distancing and the wearing of masks or face coverings at all times.”

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