Union body publishes ‘red lines’ for relaxing lockdown

The STUC has written to the UK Government accusing it of 'mixed messages and confusing briefings'.

A leading trade union organisation has published five red lines for relaxing lockdown restrictions, as well as raising concerns about the UK Government’s approach to workplace guidance.

In its letter to business secretary Alok Sharma, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) criticises UK ministers for a failure to “properly consult”.

The body suggested the UK Government had been sending mixed messages on the lockdown ahead of Sunday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, and had produced weak safety advice for workers.

The STUC has said it will only support a four-nation approach to easing lockdown measures if the UK Government puts the safety of workers and the general public first.

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General secretary designate Rozanne Foyer said: “Ahead of the Prime Minister’s much-trailed announcement on Sunday, there have been a series of mixed messages and confusing briefings emanating from Number 10.

“Any move towards lifting restrictions or workplaces re-opening must be evidenced-based, open and transparent and be for the four nations of the UK if possible.

“However, the four-nation approach is only possible insofar as the UK Government prioritises safety over profit and takes into account the levels of infection across each part of the UK.

“We will not support a four-nation approach if it puts additional lives at risk.”

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The red lines include capacity for greater testing and a return to contact tracing, room to supply PPE to non-essential workplaces, guidance which is agreed between unions and employers, effective enforcement measures and a continuation of the job retention scheme and other support for those who cannot work.

The STUC pledged support for any employees who collectively refuse to return to work because of legitimate safety fears.

It is also calling on the Scottish Government to maintain and strengthen its safety-first approach and to continue to work closely with the STUC to prepare detailed safety guidance for different industrial sectors.

Ms Foyer added: “Equally, there must be no weakening of the Scottish Government’s resolve.

“If workers have legitimate safety fears, unions will use all means at their disposal to keep them safe and the STUC will support any action aimed to protect workers in Scotland.”