Students’ return home – UNISON urges Scottish government to protect frontline staff

UNISON Scotland has today (Wednesday) urged the Scottish government not to forget workers in any plans to enable students to return home in time for Christmas.

Universities minister Richard Lochhead is expected to make an announcement later today on the Scottish government’s plans for the movement of students between their campuses and family homes over the Christmas period.

UNISON is calling on the Scottish government and university principals to respect and protect the cleaners, security officers and caterers who have faced the greatest risk from explosive virus outbreaks in student accommodation.

Lorcan Mullen, regional organiser for UNISON Scotland, said: “Security staff, cleaners and catering workers at Scottish universities have had an extremely difficult year, with a constant pendulum swing between fear of workplace infection and fear of redundancy in the event of campuses emptying out. The volatility and risk in this sector have left these workers and their families feeling immense anxiety. They should be the very last people expected to pay for the errors of governments, principals and senior management teams.

“Whatever happens next, low-paid support staff must have their jobs and incomes protected until at least the start of the next academic year, and must be assured that serious lessons have been learned from the alarming campus outbreaks in September. UNISON has made these points repeatedly to the Scottish government and to the employers and will continue to fight for the safest possible working conditions on campuses.

“Universities cannot function safely or effectively without the work of these people – UNISON will not allow them to be forgotten or treated as collateral in this crisis.”

 For further information contact:

Lorcan Mullen, regional organiser for UNISON Scotland, on 07903 853 116 /