A concerted effort10 April 2020
We all need a helping hand to get through the Covid-19 crisis and the trade associations
are there to help. LCN brings readers some of their latest advice and news.
Guild of Cleaners and Launderers
The Guild of Cleaners and Launderers (GLC) is the professional, qualifying body for the textile care industry. Ken Cupitt, FGCL, reports: “We had the foresight to engage the University of Northumbria to do original research into low temperature processing due to concerns about the hygiene and financed this with the help of match funding from the Worshipful Company of Launderers. This was before we had any knowledge of Coronavirus but expected that we might be subjected to a future flu epidemic.
“We wanted to be sure that we could have confidence in the hygiene of our processes. The outcome of this research proved that wetcleaning/ washing at, or below, 30°C, microorganisms, which include viruses, are not killed unless a bactericide, such as the peroxy bleach PAP6*, is added, and the research also proved that dry cleaning in Perchloroethylene no microorganisms survived. PAP is a preformed peracid patented and developed by Solvay and supplied, or included in products, by many of the usual chemical supply companies. (phthalimido-peroxy-hexanoic acid (PAP)) PAP Peroxy Bleach is marketed under *Solvay’s Eureco Trademark and they are suppliers to end product blenders and manufacturers.
“A major result is that we now know that microorganisms can survive on textiles for a long time after contact and before cleaning/washing and the tests showed that on wool they survived longer than 28 days, on cotton Klebsiella Pneumonia survived 11 days, and it is pneumonia that can result from contracting Covid-19. On 100% polyester, microorganisms lived only for five days but this is still a long time for items to be contaminated.
“The research also showed that wetcleaning, or low temperature washing products, should have the benefit of this PAP6*, or something equivalent, to ensure that micro-organisms are killed during the process. It was also observed in the research that some products with PAP 6 are also of a high alkalinity and therefore users should be aware of the dangers of wetcleaning/washing wool and silks at higher alkali levels because they are sensitive and could be damaged if precautions are not taken.”
Following the Government’s announcement on Friday, additional support is now in place to support businesses. These measures are in addition to those announced earlier last week in respect of Statutory Sick Pay and Business Rates.
The following link will direct you to the most up to date guidance. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-toemployers- and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-forbusinesses.
If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. This is administered by the British Business Bank. www.british-business-bank.co.uk
*PAP:6-phtalimido peroxy hexanoic acid has become increasingly popular in consumer and professional detergent markets and in personal care products. It is known for its effectiveness in removing stubborn stains (grass, tea, coffee, tomato, etc.), getting rid of malodour and in killing germs, bacteria fungi on textiles and hard surfaces. Solvay/Eureco is a Belgian chemical company with manufacturing facilities in the UK.
Meanwhile, as LCN went to press on the print edition, TSA CEO had just put out his second open letter calling on the Government to clarify details for commercial laundries in all sectors. He voiced his concern for hospitality laundries saying: “We are expecting that a significant number of hospitality laundries will have to cease production due to the closure of the hospitality sector they service. While they will work to implement all the Government support measures that have been introduced to support their staff during the shutdown it will result in almost 15,000 workers being furloughed or made redundant. This will potentially create issues where hospitality laundries have within their customer base care homes, private hospitals and other essential service providers.
“We are aware that some hotels are opening as essential worker accommodation or may become temporary hospitals. In order for our industry to support these operations, we need to understand the scale of this so we can co-ordinate an industry solution. Finally, those hotels converting to temporary hospitals would require a totally different approach as the risks to the laundry operators increase. Furthermore, such establishments would need to be serviced as a healthcare facility using a specialist healthcare provider.
The industry still requires urgent clarification on the details around the scheme. The key concerns being:
- If somebody is furloughed, we need to make sure that the liabilities going forward around return to work and re-start are minimal and can be phased
- Non contracted staff - urgent clarification is needed here - we have thousands of staff on variable hours
- Can consideration be given to allow staff to be partially furloughed. This would allow laundries to continue to operate on reduced staffing levels and also in the event of a closure allow key staff to maintain operational status of the facility for re-opening. E.g. A laundry engineer furloughed for 4 days but maintains the equipment in good working order for one day a week
- Can directors who are salaried and full-time employees be furloughed. We have many small companies where the Directors are hands on operational members of the team
- Suspend the accrual of holiday pay while they are furloughed as once staff return, companies will not be in a position to pay lots of additional holiday pay
- We require a clear understanding of the potential anticipated increase in demand. The Textile Service Association is happy to be included within these emergency plans so we can prepare the industry and ensure continuity of service. How many key workers hotels are likely to be set up?
Healthcare and Essential Service Laundries (Food and Pharmaceutical)
The situation here is very different to hospitality laundries. Some operators in this sector are struggling to retain a full workforce and we need to create an incentive for experienced laundry staff in the hospitality sector who have been furloughed to transfer to the healthcare sector
- Access to PPE, generally this does seem to be getting through, but we need to ensure that this continues
- Support to commercially adjust pricing where increased costs can be fully justified and audited. We are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for scrub tops and trousers as hospitals move nurses out of healthcare uniforms which are normally on a selfcare basis and into an outsourced validated hygienic uniform service. (Something we have been lobbying to achieved for 10 years!) We are currently preparing to mobilise increased UK production but the cost of this versus offshore is clearly going to be more. Another example would be if a laundry needs to increase thermal or chemical disinfection for an increased range of products. Suspension of the Climate Change Levy charge would assist in covering this.
- We require a clear understanding of the potential anticipated increase in demand. The Textile Services Association is happy to be included within these emergency plans so we can prepare the industry and ensure continuity of service, how many emergency beds are the Government looking to add. Laundry service, linen and garments are an essential element of a temporary hospital
- Laundries and support services need to be specifically added to the essential services list. At the moment, we understand we are included but it is not clear and could be open to misinterpretation.
Martin Jenkins, who represents the interests of drycleaners at UKFT, tells LCN that UKFT is in direct contact with the Government on a daily basis so definitely worth subscribing to the UKFT newsletter for updates and also keeping a check on the website. The official UKFT response is thus. Companies will have a range of questions as to what the Prime Minister’s statement last night means to their business. It is clear that non-essential retail shops (ie physical stores) should close with immediate effect. Drycleaning shops can currently remain open. Online sales can continue as normal and delivery companies are still working but with new social distancing measures in place.
Currently workers can go to work if they can’t work from home but you must maintain very strict social distancing while at work as well as very rigorous hygiene measures. More detailed Government guidance is expected shortly. Jenkins adds: “UKFT is in constant dialogue with the Government and has stressed the need for clearer guidance and to make financial support available as soon as possible. For the latest information do sign up to the UKFT news. We are very keen to hear from companies so please do email us at email@example.com.”
As Covid-19 puts the nation on virtual lockdown, there is a lot of confusion about exactly what the
textile care industry should be doing. Trade bodies such as the Textile Services Association, (TSA) the
Guild of Cleaners and Launderers (GCL) and UKFT, which represents the drycleaners, have been
outstanding in keeping their members informed in a rapidly changing situation.
We all have to pull together in times such as this, even if that is from 2 metres apart, and the trade
associations are doing their best to enable the industry to do just that. The associations are lobbying
hard for their members and textile care as a whole.
Set out in this feature is useful information from the three trade bodies.
For more information, do check out their websites which are constantly being updated.
- Please also visit pages 14-16, Material Solutions, for Richard Neale’s advice on disinfection processes for commercial laundries.