Following the statement by the First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy & Fair Work Fiona Hyslop met with the STUC Covid Group, including UNISON Scotland, to outline their plans and to receive initial comments.
There is a commitment to continue to work with the trade unions following recent restatements of the Fair Work Principles. The trade unions emphasised that they are the appropriate representatives of the workforce.
The cautious approach in the route map was welcomed as was the phased approach, subject to reviews.
A crucial part of these reviews will be the evidence of “R” as an indicator of the state of the pandemic, if there is to be confidence in any re-start and return.
In addition to the reviews of evidence and the phased advice across sectors, the pivotal function of safe and secure public transport was stressed as was the consideration to the continuation of home-working where possible and appropriate.
Responding to the First Minister’s announcement on plans for easing lockdown the STUC underlines three major potential blockages to the plans which could adversely affect 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.
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 was brought forward
- Major issues still to resolve on transport guidance
The STUC five red lines for lifting lockdown are:
- Capacity for greater testing and a return to contact tracing;
- Capacity to supply PPE to non-essential workplaces;
- Sectoral Guidance needs to be agreed between unions and employers;
- Effective enforcement measures must be in place;
- A continuation of the job retention scheme and other support for those who cannot work.