The STUC has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcements on easing lockdown but emphasised that the next fortnight will be critical if a second infection spike is to be avoided. It also urged the First Minister not to be pressured into reducing the two metre distancing rule.
It said the re-opening in eleven days of non-essential factories and warehouses, as well as non-essential retail poses a significant challenge which can only be met if workers have confidence in their safety at work, their safety getting to work and if full support is available for those with caring responsibilities. Full and effective contact tracing must also be available
It emphasised that the implementation of phase two did not amount to a blanket invitation for businesses to re-open. Rather it is the beginning of a phase where businesses should agree and publish a Coivd-19 risk assessment in full consultation with unions and workers.
Launching its new website https://www.workerssafetyscotland.org/, the STUC reaffirmed its view that workers should only return to workplaces where a full risk assessment is in place. It said any worker worried about return to work should contact their union or the STUC. The STUC said it could organise a roving health and safety rep to visit any workplace through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
STUC General Secretary Designate Rozanne Foyer says:
“We are now entering a make or break phase both for the health of Scotland and its future economy. With a sensible and sustainable emergence from lockdown backed by proper health and safety in workplaces and across public transport, there is cause for optimism. But if employers get this wrong the opposite will be true.
“COVID 19 workplace policies must adhere to all government guidance, including safe travel to work, full compliance with contact tracing guidance. Fundamentally, workers with health concerns and any caring responsibilities should not be pressured to return to the workplace.
“We support the continued caution of the Scottish Government and are pleased it has accepted our call for mandatory face coverings for all travel on public transport. However we are concerned at the growing pressure from businesses to relax the 2 metre distancing rule and are calling on the Scottish Government to maintain the safety first approach required to achieve a sustainable recovery.”