Laura Sharman 02 April 2020

Scottish unions blast 'inconsistent' way councils are handling coronavirus

Scottish unions blast inconsistent way councils are handling coronavirus image

Trade unions in Scotland have criticised the ‘inconsistent’ approach to protecting council staff from coronavirus.

In a letter to first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, three trade unions have warned a lack of ‘urgency and consistency’ by some local authorities is putting council workers and services users at risk.

UNISON, Unite and GMB highlight a lack of Personal Protective Equipment for workers, no strategy for testing frontline workers, and concerns that some workers are unable to practice social distancing.

The trade unions state: ‘We are on the brink of the peak of the pandemic and still there exist major concerns over the availability, and guidance around the use of, personal protective equipment – particularly in the social and residential care sector – testing of frontline staff, the difficulties in workers being able to observe social distancing at work and the definition of who is a key worker.

’The trade unions appreciate that this is an unprecedented time but the lack of national, consistent, guidance in these areas has the potential to put lives at risk.

’We need a national co-ordinated response – the first minister needs to lead the effort to ensure that national guidance is both clear and consistently applied by local authorities.’

Cllr Alison Evison, COSLA president, said: 'Councils take the health and wellbeing of both staff and individuals across our communities very seriously and are continuing to do so at this unprecedented time. The national response to the COVID 19 pandemic is public health led and informed by the science.

'Services across Scotland are being provided in line with Public Health guidance and Local Government is working closely with the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland to ensure support across the system.'

One year on, councils will be central to recovery image

One year on, councils will be central to recovery

After an extraordinary year, council staff are exhausted, worn down and facing further cuts, says Heather Jameson. But she has no doubt they will continue to rise to the challenge 'whether it is in an office, at home or on a laptop anywhere'.
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