Ahead of a scheduled meeting with Cabinet Secretary, STUC urges more definitive guidance on shut down of non-essential services. Particular issues raised in manufacturing, food & drink, and construction.
STUC General Secretary Designate Rozanne Foyer said:
“We now have in place a very focused and productive process for engaging with the Scottish Government and for delivering on the COVID 19 Fair Work statement that we agreed last week. The Cabinet Secretary and First Minister have sent out some clear general messages about the need for businesses to heed advice to close down their non-essential operations. However, we need definitive guidance on what constitutes an essential service. This is becoming more urgent by the day.
“Among out priorities for the meeting today will be the need to issue clear and decisive guidance in sectors such as food and drink, manufacturing and construction.
“In food and drink, reports from both union and non-union workplaces suggests that some employers are playing fast and loose with the concept of essential. In so doing we fear that they are seeking to gain an immoral competitive advantage over rival companies who are doing the right thing.
“Our number one priority is to keep our members safe and to ensure that they have a job to return to when this current period finishes. We will not tolerate immoral commercial behaviour that undermines these two objectives. Even where companies are deemed essential, we have grave concerns at differing practice and mixed messages about social distancing in the workplace.
“Bad decisions to stay open taken by big companies in manufacturing have major knock on effects in the supply chain with smaller companies feeling pressured to stay open for want of losing current and future business.
“We are also deeply concerned about the situation in construction. The Scottish Government was right to warn Morgan Sindall in Glasgow not to resume its work on the Sighthill Project, but there is still a great deal of confusion out there which tighter guidance and firm messaging could help resolve.
“We need to place every bit of pressure we can on these companies at every level. Pressure from the workers, pressure from the public and pressure from the Government. Doing the right thing will save lives, doing the wrong thing will not be forgiven.”