Prospect continued to seek improvements to the UK government’s scheme to assist self-employed members at both Westminster and at Holyrood.
A safety net for members in the creative sector was announced last week through Creative Scotland, but we know that much more is needed.
In Scotland, my colleague David Avery was successful in negotiating an agreement on furlough on full pay at Prestwick Airport, and we’ve continued to grow our membership and support members across the country. Indeed, in some areas, like Prestwick Aircraft Maintenance, we’ve seen membership almost double.
COVID-19 Group meetings
In our two meetings with Fiona Hyslop this week, we concentrated our efforts on calling for a much stronger enforcement approach for workplaces flouting Government instructions to close and furlough staff.
We recognise that the Scottish Government has gone much further on this issue than the UK Government and we appreciate those moves, but more is needed.
This week we secured direct Government advice to one such employer, Prestwick Air Maintenance, that they are not undertaking essential work and should furlough their staff. Sadly this advice has been ignored.
We have convened an urgent meeting with Business Minister Jamie Hepburn to progress this. At today’s meeting with Fiona Hyslop, it was agreed that the Scottish Government would now start to use its social distancing powers to enforce the closure of unsafe workplaces where appropriate.
We agreed that no Government guidance would be issued on workplace issues without trade union involvement.
We also agreed that Scottish Government officials, employers and unions will work together to identify areas of work which are non-essential and where workers can be furloughed to keep them safe across the 13 sectors identified by the Scottish Government as critical to national infrastructure (such as defence and aviation).
This is what strong unions and governments that appreciate our critical role in civic society can achieve if they work together.
The Scottish Government has updated us on a seasonal worker scheme. This is also being explored by the UK Government. The Scottish Government has committed to engage with the STUC (of which Prospect is a key player) on this.
Working safely at home
We know that for many members, the move to homeworking came rapidly. Next week the Edinburgh office will be working with the branches we support to ensure that wherever possible, homeworkers are getting access to appropriate equipment so that their workstations are safe. Other areas of Prospect are already picking this up.
Prospect furloughs staff
I think it’s important to let you know that Prospect furloughed a number of staff today. This decision was taken for a number of reasons; our Senior Management Team will explain those reason to members later.
However, I wanted to say that across Prospect, staff are still working with employers and Government to protect your jobs and health and are available to take up issues. I’d just ask you to bear in mind it may take us a little longer to respond to your concerns and queries