Glasgow home carers to ballot for action over “no confidence” in COVID testing roll-out
Home carers in Glasgow City Council’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) will launch a ballot for industrial action next week, warning they have “no confidence” over plans for workplace testing of COVID-19 and amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding the vaccination programme.
Over 1,700 GMB Scotland members will take part in a three-week ballot, running from Tuesday 19 January to Monday 8 February, meaning service delivery in the HSCP could be affected by action as early as the week beginning Monday 22 February.
It follows a 93% support for action among GMB members in a consultative ballot last month, a direct response to the Scottish Government’s Winter Preparedness Plan which put home carers to the back of the queue in the roll-out of workplace testing delivery.
David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “There is no confidence whatsoever among our members in their employer or the government to sufficiently protect their health and safety at work. And why should there be?
“They were failed on PPE at the outset of this pandemic, they have been left waiting ten months for workplace testing, and some are already encountering problems getting their first vaccine.
“The HSCP should have been fighting tooth and nail for every resource to protect the safety of their employees and their service users. Instead they have been sitting on zoom calls for nearly a year waiting on guidance from the Scottish Government, only for Ministers to leave councils carrying the can for testing delivery.
“The interests of these key workers have been consistently forgotten and they are being treated negligently by their employer, and this government.”
The Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership said vaccinations are already underway and testing begins next Monday.
A spokeswoman told Scottish Housing News: “We are concerned and disappointed by the GMB statement, especially as they were provided with a detailed progress report yesterday.
“We take the safety of our dedicated staff very seriously and have done so throughout the pandemic. We completely understand people’s concerns and continue to work closely with staff, trade unions and the vulnerable people we care for, to ensure their safety during this challenging time.
“Home Carers are a priority group to receive the vaccination and all our Home Carers have been contacted directly by email and text over the last 10 days in order to book vaccination appointments.
“One thousand appointments are booked for this week alone and enough appointments are available to ensure the remaining 1800 Home Care staff are vaccinated by the end of the month (Jan).
“A progress report on this was given to the unions, including the GMB, at a meeting at noon yesterday (12th). Mr Hume attended the meeting and raised no issues at all at that time.
“Home Carers are being updated on the vaccination programme via daily emails and text messages which are actively encouraging staff to have the vaccine.
“We will take delivery of 14,000 PCR tests on Friday and staff have been given information on how to use them once a week – starting next Monday. This is in line with the situation nationally and the unions have also been given detailed information on the plans. We look forward to arrival of the tests and welcome the start of testing next week.”