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Trade unions write to Sturgeon over inconsistent approach to coronavirus by local authorities

LEADING trade unions wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today, highlighting “major inconsistencies” across Scottish local authorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, putting workers and the public at risk.

Unite, GMB and Unison collectively represent over 120,000 workers in local authorities across Scotland, many of them on the front line delivering essential services and providing care to vulnerable groups.

The unions have been in discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities over the response to the crisis, but are now increasingly concerned that the lack of urgency and consistency is putting service users and workers at risk, and that direct intervention by Ms Sturgeon’s was needed.

Key concerns highlighted by the unions include the availability and quality of personal protective equipment, the ability of workers to observe social-distancing measures at work, and the urgent need to test front-line workers in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines.

The unions’ letter said that the physical and mental health of local government workers, as well as of those in the third and private sectors, must be protected when delivering services, and that this was not happening “anywhere near effectively enough.”

“The trade unions appreciate that this is an unprecedented time but the flimsy and inconsistent guidance that is currently being issued by local authorities is putting lives at risk,” the unions said.

“We need a national response and this must come from the First Minister’s lead to ensure that the advice is clear, consistent and comprehensive.”

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