Workers Safety Put at Risk During Red Weather Alert

red alertThe Scottish Government and the STUC are to make the case to the UK Government about putting in place measures to protect workers who are being compelled by employers to travel to work during a weather Red Alert warning. The Scottish Government and STUC will also be working together to develop a Fair Work Charter.

What is a Red Alert?

Weather warnings are issued by the UK Met Office which have a traffic light style system to indicate to the public how serious they are.

Red Alert: Extreme weather is expected. Red means you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely. You must avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.

During the recent Red Alert Police Scotland advised that only emergency workers should be travelling: that there should be no unnecessary travel.

Despite this some people did attempt journeys even though the ‘risk to life is likely’. The STUC has evidence that some workers were being put under pressure to travel during the Red Alert.

Employment Law is reserved to the UK Government, however, the STUC and the Scottish Government have issued a joint statement detailing their concerns with what many workers in Scotland were being pressured into doing.

Joint Statement by Nicola Sturgeon, FM of Scotland and Grahame Smith STUC General Secretary

“We are grateful to the people of Scotland who have coped tremendously well with the red weather warning and who heeded the advice not to travel.

“However, the Scottish Government and the STUC share a real concern that some workers were placed at unnecessary risk through being compelled to travel to work or placed under threat of lost pay if they did not make it into work.

“We are committed to doing everything within our current powers to encourage employers to be fair and flexible. That is why we have agreed to collaboratively develop a Fair Work charter focusing on the treatment of workers affected by severe weather or other emergencies.

“The charter will set out Fair Work principles that employers should adopt in these circumstances. This will include a recognition that workers need an effective voice through a union to develop appropriate, flexible and fair approaches, and will highlight examples of employers and unions working flexibly and constructively.

“It is our view that legislation should be in place to protect the rights of workers during severe weather. As employment law is a reserved area, we will make this case to the UK Government. We will continue to press for the devolution of employment powers that would enable the Scottish Parliament to put the employment laws in place that are best suited to Scotland’s needs.”

Related story: Precarious work is snow fun and pay



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  1. This is likely to happen more often.
    It’s a hard choice to make – stay home and possibly lose your job/income, or set off, endangering yourself and putting more strain on the people trying to ensure our safety.
    The need for a re-assessment of the erosion of workers rights comes to the fore – again – GOOD.

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