The Relaxation of COVID19 Protections

There is a STUC  webinar on ‘The Relaxation of COVID19 Protections: The impact for workers and unions’, this takes place on 08th September at 4pm, further information including registration details can be found here.

This webinar is FREE and will be very interesting, if you are interested please book.

LG Update 04 August 2021

Further guidance will be provided to businesses to help them adopt measures to mitigate risks, including ensuring good ventilation; maintaining good hand hygiene; practising respiratory hygiene; getting vaccinated; and continuing to engage with Test and Protect. 

Beyond Level 0 

Further detail about measures announced . 

Further guidance will be provided to businesses to help them adopt measures to mitigate risks, including ensuring good ventilation; maintaining good hand hygiene; practising respiratory hygiene; getting vaccinated; and continuing to engage with Test and Protect. 

Some baseline measures will remain in place: 

  • it will continue to be the law, subject to exceptions, that face coverings must be worn in indoor public places and on public transport 
  • Test & Protect will continue to contact-trace positive cases. To assist with this there will be a continued requirement for indoor hospitality and similar venues to collect the contact details of customers. Anyone who is required to self-isolate will, if eligible, continue to have access to support 
  • we will work closely with local incident management teams on appropriate outbreak control measures 
  • we will continue to use travel restrictions, as and when necessary, to restrict the spread of outbreaks and protect against the risk of importation of new variants 
  • for now, we will continue to advise home working where possible, recognising that some staff will start to return to offices in line with staff wellbeing discussions and business need. we will encourage employers to consider for the longer term, as the Scottish Government is doing, a hybrid model of home and office working – which may, of course, have benefits beyond the need to control a virus 
  • we will, for a limited period, keep in place a gateway process through which organisers of outdoors events of more than 5000 and indoor events of more than 2000 will have to apply for permission. This will allow us and local authorities to be assured of the arrangements in place to reduce risk 
  • we will continue to issue appropriate guidance to assist individuals and businesses to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible, such as rigorous hygiene, including regular hand washing. 


More information can be found here https://www.gov.scot/news/scotland-to-move-beyond-level-0 and here https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-update-first-ministers-statement-3-august-2021-1 

Asymptomatic Testing Programme Update 

Please view a letter that has been sent to local authorities asking that they include communications around on-return asymptomatic at-home testing in their plans for return to schools in the coming weeks.  

An update on the asymptomatic testing programme is also included. 

Revised Schools Guidance

Following the First Minister’s statement today the revised schools guidance can be found here: Coronavirus: reducing risks in schools guidance

To allow time to monitor the impact of a new policy on self-isolation for U18s, and to take account of the unique features of the school environment at the time of return, the guidance advises the continued application of most of the existing mitigations for a period of up to 6 weeks; for example, the position on physical distancing in schools should effectively remain the same, despite the wider changes to these requirements.

As with previous versions, the guidance will be kept under constant review, and if data and evidence suggest that any specific mitigations can be removed at an earlier stage advice will be provided to that effect.

Updates on LG Pay, Long Covid and Mitigation in Schools

We understand that the Cabinet secretary for Finance has agreed to a joint meeting with COSLA Leaders to discuss the funding situation for local government and that meeting is due to take place this Wednesday.

LG Pay Negotiations Update 

We understand that the Cabinet secretary for Finance has agreed to a joint meeting with COSLA Leaders to discuss the funding situation for local government and that meeting is due to take place this Wednesday.  Thereafter COSLA Leaders are due to meet on Friday, at which point it is likely they will take a view on affordability with respect to improving the pay offer following the discussions with the Cabinet Secretary.  This is the final week of the Scottish Parliament sitting before the summer recess and we have asked Mark Griffin MSP to see if he can get an urgent question laid on this issue to add additional pressure on the Scottish Government.  We will keep you abreast of developments. 

TUC webinar: Long Covid and the workplace  

The TUC is hosting a webinar discussing the results of its survey of Long Covid in the workplace, current policy relating to the condition, the related campaign priorities and what unions can do to support workers experiencing symptoms.  It’s open to all TU activists, reps and officers with an interest in the issue.  It is being held at 7pm on the 30th June and you can register here: http://msg.unison.org.uk/c/1nhZGBmZ1Qq0KNsxs5tm9 

Mitigations in Schools post-summer 

Please find attached an advice note regarding planning for mitigations in schools post-summer holidays, including in respect of the schools asymptomatic testing programme. This has been developed with input from members, including unions, of the Covid Education Recovery Group (CERG) and draws on advice from the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues.  

The approach reflects the current uncertainty around the Delta variant and the position post-summer, and the advice received that removal of some key mitigations in school environments is significantly easier than reintroduction.  

As referenced in the note, separate advice on ELC settings is expected to be produced and issued shortly. The ELC guidance is expected to reflect important key differences in the situation faced by schools and ELC settings, including that many ELC settings will be operating over the summer while local authority areas progress through different protection levels, and that some current mitigations result in capacity issues that will have a bearing on decisions that local authorities need to take about placements ahead of the next academic term.  

Download or View the document below:

Update April 2021

LG Pay 2021  

Preparations are underway for the consultative ballot and further campaign resources will be circulated in advance of the ballot opening.   

LG Hustings – Thursday 15th April, 7pm

Three of the five major parties have now confirmed they will send a representative to our online hustings event which will be live-streamed on Facebook. 

Click on the image to go to Eventbrite

LG ‘One Year of Covid’ Survey –  Members should have already received a national reminder, however please see link below

Return of schools 

As you will be aware nearly all pupils are due to return to full-time school when the Easter holidays end. 

However, children who are on the shielding list are advised to stay at home until 26 April, in line with advice from the Chief Medical Officer. All other pupils, will return to school once the summer term starts. 

Strict 2 metre physical distancing between pupils in secondary schools will be removed and schools will consider how they can strengthen other mitigations. 

Following the national expansion of lateral flow testing, twice-weekly tests are available for all school staff in primary, secondary and special schools and for secondary school pupils. 

More info on the return of schools here: 

https://www.gov.scot/news/return-to-full-time-school

Reassurance of Safety of COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test  

There have been inaccurate posts on social media and on-line regarding the safety of Covid-19 lateral flow tests in relation to the use of ethylene oxide in the sterilization of the swabs. We urge everyone to get their facts from reputable sources. 

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, Public Health England COVID-19 Incident Director, said: 

 “Parents, children and staff should feel reassured that lateral flow tests used in schools have been rigorously tested and are completely safe to use on a regular basis. Any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate and harmful misinformation.” 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:  

“Lateral flow tests have been rigorously tested and are safe to use on a regular basis. Any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate and harmful misinformation. 

“The manufacturers have confirmed that 1-2ug/g of ethylene oxide is used in the swabs, which is well within national/international safety standards. 

“We are working closely with social media platforms to help them identify and take action to remove incorrect claims about the pandemic, including deliberately false information that could endanger people’s health.” 

Universal Free School Meals in Scotland.

The STUC Women’s Committee is calling for the expansion of Universal Free School Meals in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has said that education and tackling the poverty-related attainment gap are their top priorities: we ask the Scottish Government to take stronger action in support of these priorities by introducing Universal Free School Meals for all.

Our children and young people’s life chances cannot be put on hold – immediate policy action is required now

Why is this important?

Poverty and inequality were already at an unacceptably high level in Scotland well before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, and we have grave concerns that such socio-economic disadvantage has only intensified, especially for children and women.

The Scottish Government’s commitment to significantly reduce Child Poverty by 2030, with a view to ultimately eradicating it, and the creation of the new Scottish Child Payment Benefit is welcomed by the STUC Women’s Committee. Similarly, we welcome the Deputy First Minister’s pledge to expand free school meals provision to all Primary school pupils if the SNP retain power at the 2021 Scottish Parliament Elections.

However, we strongly believe that further urgent action to mitigate child poverty is required immediately. The Scottish Government have the power and resources to go further in introducing progressive policies that can more strongly mitigate poverty and inequality and make life-changing differences to children and families now. Firm and decisive action on child poverty in Scotland cannot be further delayed.

That is why the STUC Women’s Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to expand Universal Free School Meals to all children and young people, including those of Secondary school and Nursery age, with immediate effect. Moreover, we are calling on the Scottish Government to combat holiday hunger by ensuring that there are programmes and provisions in place in all of Scotland’s local authorities so that all children and young people have access to sufficient food during the school holidays.

Our most vulnerable children, young people’s right and access to a nutritious meal should not be determined by chance of the local authority they live in or based on the goodwill of community volunteers.

We know that the roots of the poverty-related attainment gap stretch well beyond the school gates, but the significant role our educational institutions play in tackling poverty, challenging inequality, and helping to build a healthier, more inclusive society cannot be underestimated.

We strongly believe that the introduction of Universal Free School Meals will not only help to combat hunger and poverty but will shatter the stigma and shame associated with the provision of meals on a means tested basis and will fuel young people’s ability to learn in the classroom. Neither empty tummies nor low self-esteem make for full days of learning in school. Furthermore, this progressive policy sends a clear and positive message to the rest of the devolved nations and beyond that we are serious about ending poverty in Scotland, and that we are genuinely committed to educational equity and to the wellbeing of our young people.

Sign the petition today and email the First Minister showing your support.

COVID Workforce Issues Update March 2021

Changes to level 4 restrictions were outlined yesterday.  Updated guidance and regulations will be published on Friday 12 March to reflect these changes.  In the meantime you can read more here: https://www.gov.scot/news/changes-to-level-4-restrictions 


Schools 

The revised guidance on arrangements for the phased reopening of schools in March 2021 has been published.  You can read that here: 

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-schools-reopening

The Health and Safety Executive’s bulletin on education and schools is also here: 

Education and schools eBulletin: March 2021 | Hse.gov.uk (newslettercollector.com) 

Elections 

A joint statement has been issued by the Scottish, UK and Welsh governments regarding the elections due to take place in May.  You can read that here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/elections-2021-joint-statement-scottish-government-uk-government-welsh-government  

The UNISON Stirling branch are requesting that the risk assessments associated with all polling stations, polling places and counting places.be shared with them and indeed that they receive a report/update on how a safe election in Stirling will be facilitated.

Library Guidance Updated 

The Covid guidance on public libraries has been updated and can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-libraries-guidance