aegis-the-union

22/5 Aegis Daily Update

STUC initial response to First Minister’s announcement

May 21st 2020

**First Minister correct to remain cautious. Route Map faces serious obstacles before implementation is possible. **

Responding to the First Minister’s announcement on plans for easing lockdown the STUC underlines three major potential blockages to the plans which could scupper the Government’s timetable for any safe return to work as well as sparking refusals to comply. It warns against any employer treating today’s announcement as a green light to pressing for an immediate return to work and calls on the construction sector to urgently engage with unions.

The STUC says it will respond in detail to the route map in due course but makes the following initial observations:

• Welcomes the continuation of the Scottish Government’s safety-first approach and the continuing caution expressed by the First Minister in contrast with some of the messaging of the UK Government

• Progress is being made on enforcement and sectoral guidance as well as the welcome continuation of the job retention scheme, but serious question marks remain on an effective contact tracing system and the capacity to supply PPE to non-essential workplaces

• All of the sectoral guidance currently being negotiated with employers and unions will be treated as conditional to an effective transport plan being brought forward

• Major issues still to resolve on transport guidance

Speaking after the First Minster’s announcement STUC General Secretary Designate Roz Foyer says:

“Workers in Scotland cannot and will not be forced back to work by employers until we have an effective contact tracing system in place and until we know that some of the scenes witnessed in England on public transport will not be repeated here”.

On Test and Protect, Foyer says:

“We need evidence that the virus has been supressed, both in terms of the R value being well below 1 and that overall cases across the population have reached low enough levels. We do not yet have sufficient information on the levels of infection in Scotland to introduce an effective contact tracing system. Nor do we yet have confidence that enough contact tracers can be recruited without pushing staff off other essential work dealing with the pandemic.

On transport:

“We are pleased that the Scottish Government is working hard to pull together guidance on transport and that unions are involved in those negotiations. However, until that guidance is agreed and until it provides a satisfactory road map for safely dealing with a potential increase in volume, we cannot, in all conscience accept that workplaces should re-open.”

On construction:

“We welcome the FM stressing the importance of any move out of lock down requiring liaison with trade unions. We demand and expect that where an employer does not currently recognise a union it is compelled to agree terms for union engagement and for the admission to sites of union health and safety officers.

Notes:

The STUC five red lines for lifting lockdown are

  1. Capacity for greater testing and a return to contact tracing

  2. Capacity to supply PPE to non-essential workplaces

  3. Sectoral Guidance needs to be agreed between unions and employers

  4. Effective enforcement measures must be in place

  5. A continuation of the job retention scheme and other support for those who cannot work

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