During the coronavirus crisis in late March, Unite and other trade unions were being inundated with reports of workers across Scotland being compelled to continue to work. This often involved unsafe working conditions and shared or public transport that carried infection risks. These problems are gradually being resolved.
Safety measures have to be ensured, and with agreement on this in place, work on the biggest construction project in Scotland – Glasgow University's new Western Campus – was halted (see photo). Essential construction related to overcoming Covid-19 will continue.
Meanwhile Unite has concluded a “Covid-19 agreement” with First Bus in the Greater Glasgow area, providing job security for nearly 3000 drivers and other bus workers who will receive 90 per cent of their wages during a reduced working pattern serving NHS and other healthcare and essential workers.
The GMB union is in dialogue with government to ensure “lifeline” ferry services to the many islands around Scottish coasts are maintained for fresh food, medicines, medical equipment and cleaning products. P&O had started furloughing its workers, raising the prospect of the ferry company going bust.
Then on 27 March government and unions issued a joint statement: “Today the Department for Transport and all major transport-focused trade unions held the first in a series of ministerial calls to discuss the impact of the coronavirus.” Times are changing.