COVID-19 Group Update
We’ve mostly been progressing some existing issues in this week’s meeting with Fiona Hyslop. However, there were two really important changes that the COVID-19 Group has been able to achieve.
First, as was widely reported there has been a strengthening of social distancing regulations in a workplace environment.
As I’ve mentioned before, some employers are circulating information to members in Scotland about work practices using the much weaker guidance from Public Health England.
If your employer asks you to undertake work in a manner contrary to the Health Protection Scotland Guidance, then please show them the new guidance and, if necessary, seek help and assistance from your rep or full time officer. All Prospect National Secretaries have been provided with the guidance and are aware of it.
We have also raised the issue of UK Government Departments issuing contrary guidance with Fiona Hyslop.
Secondly, after concerted lobbying by Prospect and other unions, particularly Unite and the Musicians Union, the Scottish Government have created a new £34 million fund to help newly self-employed workers.
This is an area which is not covered by the UK Government’s scheme for the self-employed announced earlier this month.
The fund is a step in the right direction, but crucially it still leaves too many Prospect members without a safety net other than Universal Credit.
We have written to the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties at Holyrood asking for their help in extending the scheme, and a question was asked about this in Parliament on Thursday.
Lastly, the Cabinet Secretary reported that the single point of contact for unions to report workplace issues will be in place from Monday, and further work is ongoing to make this an appropriate method for dealing with issues as we move forward.
Helping Scotland recover
Earlier this week the First Minister set out a background document to how Scotland will move forward from the current economic and social crisis we find ourselves in.
The document mentions the role that trade unions will have in shaping Scotland’s approach to recovery. It is absolutely crucial that unions are involved in creating a post-crisis Scotland.
The Scottish Government has established an Economic Recovery Advisory Group, and among the first appointments to this body was Grahame Smith, general secretary of the STUC. This group has started to meet, and is looking at a timeframe of 6 months to 2 years from now.
In aviation we are working with colleagues in London to draw up an “ask” for government (at UK and Scottish level) assistance for the industry, especially on maintaining skills in the sector during what could be a long term traffic downturn.
We are also continuing to support our members at Prestwick Aircraft Maintenance, in the face of ongoing poor behaviour from their employer. We will be submitting Employment Tribunals to support our members sacked for refusing pay cuts, we have also lodged a formal request for recognition so we can bring the employer to the table.
The behaviour of the employer has been raised in Parliament by local MSP Colin Smythe.
Lastly on aviation we’re asking people to support the Parliamentary petition resisting the plan by Highlands and Islands Airport Limited to strip high quality jobs from remote island communities.
Prospect has continued its work on the Just Transition Commission, today was the 7th meeting of the Commission and we looked at investment and finance.
Prospect is holding a webinar on Just Transition on Monday 27th and you can sign up for it here.
"Once again this shows how importamt Unions and particularly Prospect are in protecting workers across Scotland, and how important high levels of membership are" said Richard Hardy National Secretary for Scottland