At a meeting of unions with Scottish Government Minister Jamie Hepburn on Friday, STUC General Secretary, Roz Foyer raised serious concerns over the need for safety measures to be tightened up following the announcement that the R number is again above 1.
Although the total number of infections remains relatively low, trade unions concerns are growing as increasing outbreaks suggest that an exponential surge is very possible, particularly as schools enter their second week of re-opening and colleges and universities gear up to restart in the coming weeks. Calls were made by unions at the meeting for increased distancing at educational establishments, face masks for older students and increased testing of returning students at colleges and universities.
Concerns were also expressed that although the Scottish Government correctly delayed moving into Phase 4, it announced yesterday the re-opening of a new tranche of workplaces.
Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary, said:
“No-one is more concerned than trade unions about the loss of jobs and threats to the economy, however we fear that damage will be even worse if companies are forced back into closure because of a second spike. This would be particularly disastrous given the Chancellor’s damaging plans to reduce furlough support and eliminate it altogether in October.
“We are already hearing of companies demanding that workers sign contracts agreeing to no pay if they are forced back into lockdown. We also fear that it would lead to many more redundancies. The worst thing for businesses at this point would be a false start followed by a second wave of closures.
“It is particularly vital that where local outbreaks occur, swift action, testing programmes and enhanced safety measures are put in place in all local workplaces to contain a wider spread of the virus.
“Trade unions will be extra vigilant in the weeks ahead and will be resisting any further relaxation of government guidance until the R number is again below 1."