A WORKER at Oxford’s MINI plant has raised concerns at returning to work next week.

Production at the Cowley plant will restart following completion of its winter maintenance period.

The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said they had received an email outlining their return to work as planned on January 18, and will continue to work during the national lockdown.

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third lockdown last Monday, guidance states factories, plants and warehouses can open, if they are Covid-secure.

See also: Which children can still go in to school?

However, the worker said: “How can we be in a lockdown to protect lives and the NHS but still work in a factory along with up to another thousand people?”

A MINI Plant Oxford spokesman said: “We will restart production on Monday, January 18 after the completion of our winter maintenance period.

“This is in line with the most recent Government legislation, which permits the continuation of manufacturing operations across the country.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce is of course our highest priority.

thisisoxfordshire: The MINI plant in Oxford, pictured in April 2016. Picture: Jon LewisThe MINI plant in Oxford, pictured in April 2016. Picture: Jon Lewis

“As was the case throughout last year, we will be complying with all relevant public health guidelines and have been audited by regulatory authorities.

“We have carried out a full Covid-19 workplace risk assessment and have a wide range of practical measures in place, as well as stringent hygiene requirements that everyone on site will be required to adhere to.”

The spokesman added the plant’s processes and procedures have been assessed and audited by Public Health England and the Government agency, the Health & Safety Executive, as being in compliance with all the relevant Covid-19 safety guidelines.

The spokesman also said the plant will continue to be in close contact with all relevant agencies going forward and will review developments on a daily basis.

Read more: Thousands of school exclusions despite Covid pandemic

A BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) spokesperson said: “It is right to allow manufacturing to continue and employers have worked hard to ensure workplaces are Covid-secure.

“Manufacturers play an invaluable role in keeping the country operating, supporting sectors such transport, food and pharmaceuticals and we thank all those working hard in these areas.

“The law is clear that you may only leave the home to work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

“Employers should work with their staff to ensure the workplace is safe, applying our Covid-secure guidance and carrying out required risk assessments.”

The current national lockdown means people can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable to do work from home.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on news@nqo.com or 01865 425 445.