finance

Union advises cleansing workers to refuse self-isolation exemptions



GMB Scotland has advised thousands of local government cleansing workers to prioritise safety and exercise their ‘right to refuse’ requests from employers to continue working if they have been exposed to Covid-19.

It follows the Scottish Government’s announcement that double-vaccinated workers in key services, returning negative PCR tests and undertaking daily lateral flow tests, can avoid self-isolation if notified of exposure to the virus by the test and trace app, and continue working if their employer’s requests meet conditions set by ministers.

The union has more than 2,300 members in cleansing and waste services across Scotland’s local government, including Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, and West Lothian councils, who have worked throughout the pandemic – and the decision was taken after consultation with their workplace representatives.

GMB Scotland senior organiser for public services Drew Duffy said: “A major underlying factor in the so-called ‘pingdemic’ is the chronic understaffing in our frontline services after years of cuts, and our cleansing and waste is no different.

“But the Scottish Government’s new guidance has opened the door for employers across the country to heap more pressure on these key workers if they have been exposed to Covid – that’s not safe for workers, families, or communities.

“And again, some of the lowest paid are being asked to take the greatest risk in another example of how poorly they are valued by government.

“That lesson needs to be learned, and it’s why we are advising our members to exercise their right to refuse and instead follow the general self-isolation rules if they are exposed to Covid-19.”

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