Responding to the First Minister’s announcement of new restrictions on businesses today, STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said:
“It is quite clear that the Scottish Government’s approach has changed. We have a trajectory for infections which earlier this year would have prevented the re-opening of schools, colleges and many other places of work yet today saw relatively limited new restrictions. There is no doubt that it is economic pressure which has driven this change in approach. In the spirit of being forthright with the Scottish people, the First Minister should admit this.
“We have consistently sounded strong notes of caution on the re-opening of schools, colleges and some areas of business and that was precisely to avoid the situation we now find ourselves in. Government should now concede that the opening up of campuses was a serious error.
“There is a growing risk that responses from across the UK, not always backed by a clear sharing and understanding of data, are losing the confidence of the public. This has potentially grave consequences for adherence to safety guidelines.
“The additional restrictions, including the reduced opening hours of pubs, which have been introduced are regrettably necessary given the longer-term health and economic damage we need to avoid.
“That these measures are necessary will provide little comfort to workers across Scotland who are being faced with further financial hardship, job losses and uncertainty because government support does not match the seriousness of their situation.
“The largest part of the blame lies with the failure of the Chancellor to deliver a properly funded and directed worker support package. It is precisely in the sectors affected by the announcement today, where pay is low, working hours are uncertain and employment contracts are weak, that we need a Support Scheme that works. Everyone from unions to business and across the political spectrum knows that the Chancellor has come up short. His insult to hard pressed workers such as those in the culture sector will not be forgotten.
“We recognise that the Scottish Government, with such limited borrowing powers, is in a tough position. We support the call of the devolved governments for greater fiscal flexibility to manage the implications of coronavirus.”
“But it is essential that hospitality and other workers are supported. We are already hearing reports today of large hospitality employers asking precarious workers to shoulder the pain and take long periods of unpaid leave. We welcome the First Minister’s undertaking to examine how they can mitigate financial impacts and look forward to discussions with them on the design and funding of a support package which ensures that money gets directed into the hands of workers.”
For more information, please contact Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, on 07891026870.