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Scottish government must ensure all call centres are safe, union urges

Communication Workers Union makes demand following a Covid-19 outbreak at a Lanarkshire workplace

THE Scottish government was urged to lead by example and ensure that proper safety practises are in place at its contracted call centres yesterday.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) made the demand following an outbreak at a Lanarkshire call centre, linked to an NHS England contractor.

Hundreds of staff at the now-closed track-and-trace facility in Motherwell have been forced to self-isolate after a cluster of more than 20 cases of Covid-19 spread from the site. 

The call centre is one of hundreds operating in Scotland, and trade unions are pushing for better guidance on how further outbreaks at these sites can be avoided.

CWU regional secretary Craig Anderson said: “We made it clear weeks ago what we expect, and guidance from the government regarding call centres needs to be quite specific given what has just happened.

“The government also needs to take a real look at the companies they are contracting. 

“Things like hot-desking are a breeding ground for any kind of viral infection, and social distancing is pivotal. We understand companies were slow on the uptake, but at this stage there is no excuse.” 

The Scottish government said it is committed to working with unions, including the CWU, to develop specific guidance, which it said will be published shortly.

“All employers, including call centres, have a statutory duty to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected,” its statement said.

“This includes undertaking risk assessments of their work activity, assessing the risk from Covid-19 spread in the workplace, and putting in place appropriate mitigating measures.”

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