Reuse services union GMB London has called for immediate social distancing measures to be put in place to ensure the safety of refuse service staff.

Despite new government lock-down measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, crews have reportedly been instructed to carry on work as normal, which the union said "cannot be right".

It has written to the Local Government Association asking it to follow the latest government directives and give clear guidelines to all councils and contractors on how to implement social distancing.

The news comes as haulage firms claim some of the business premises their drivers are visiting also have no social distancing measures in place.

GMB senior organiser Keith Williams said: "Despite the government's directive regarding social distancing and the lock-down measures that came into effect, GMB have been advised that refuse crews are been instructed to carry on work as normal.

"The effects of this is that employees are expected to go out in cabs that are inadequate for compliance with social distancing.

"Further, employees are not been provided with daily masks and anti-viral hand gel."

The GMB went on to remind contractors and councils that the government directive on social distancing is that people should keep two meters apart and only two people should be together unless they are living in the same household.

"GMB recognise the collection of refuse is essential in these times," Williams continued. "In the light of this and to avoid any disruption of the service, GMB calls on the Local Government Association and local authorities to put immediate measures in place with their waste management service providers to protect the well being and welfare of our members which recognise the immediate threat our members are facing.

"Refuse is not a role that can be carried out at home. So refuse contractors and local authority clients have a responsibility to minimise risk during this unprecedented pandemic. It is essential that they should be working collaboratively with GMB to look at options to ensure that refuse workers are not taken for granted. They need to be shown the same level of respect and regard as all other local government and critical workers at this moment in time."