Voluntary sector can lead the way in treating workers fairly during crisis

Workers happy

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop and STUC general secretary Grahame Smith issued a joint statement this week outlining a shared commitment to fair work 

27th March 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The voluntary sector can lead the way in embracing fair working during the coronavirus crisis.

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop and STUC general secretary Grahame Smith issued a joint statement this week outlining a shared commitment to fair work practices in Scotland.

The statement calls on employers, trades unions and workers to work together to reach the right decisions on all workplace issues that arise throughout the coronavirus outbreak and ensure workers are treated fairly.

And it is hoped that the voluntary sector can embrace the principles in ensuring the rights of workers are considered during this time of crisis.

In a letter to voluntary sector leaders, Hyslop said it is important that organisations from all sectors work together.

She said: “Coronavirus is affecting all our daily lives including our workplaces and communities. We recognise the very challenging position that many employers and workers are now facing. We need a partnership, working in the national interest, to get through the next few months - a partnership that involves the public sector, third sector organisations, unions, businesses, and all workers and managers – supported by the advice of the Fair Work Convention. We are hugely appreciative of the many cases where this is already in place.

“My fellow ministers and I are determined that the Scottish Government, our agencies and other public bodies will set an example, and we are encouraging other employers to do the same. We recognise the important role the third sector plays in supporting our communities during this crisis, and recognise the challenges your organisation will be facing.”

The statement calls for employers to ensure workers follow health protection advice and can isolate when necessary, that no worker should be financially penalised if they fall ill, and that carers are supported. It also stresses the importance of facilitating staff to work from home, of the health and safety of workers to be protected, that any risks are made clear and the positions of both permanent and contracted staff should be protected.

The statement adds: “Fundamentally, employers should look to maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout this crisis and to make use of government support to achieve this. Employers should make use of the backdating of the HMRC grant to 1 March to ensure furloughed workers are compensated for lost earnings with existing contracts respected.”

STUC secretary Smith said: “Fundamental in all of this, is the need for unions and workers to be fully involved in making the key decisions. What constitutes fair work is not in the gift of employers.

“We’ve seen already that some employers can’t be trusted to take decisions that respect the health and safety, the welfare and the incomes of workers. Unions can be trusted and have been demonstrating this throughout the crisis, working day and night to support workers, defending incomes and job security and ensuring that everyone can work safely when necessary or is empowered to stay at home.”