Unite Scotland has today (19 April) demanded that the Scottish government immediately purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) from identified international suppliers. Unite can reveal that through the STUC it pressed the Scottish government last week to approach known suppliers of PPE including in Germany and China where there is availability of equipment.
The country’s leading trade union also repeated its call for Scottish based firms to be repurposed in order to manufacture protective equipment to prevent any escalation in the Covid-19 crisis.
Unite has been at the forefront of raising concerns over essential workers not being able to access necessary and adequate PPE in order to carry out their roles. This has been particularly acute in sectors where workers are most exposed to Covid-19 including social and residential care settings, construction, transportation, and refuse and recycling services.
The demands by Unite come as a series of UK wide reports suggest that hospitals are running out of PPE and are resorting to washing single-use gowns in order to be reused. Unite Scotland has also strongly criticised the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which has suggested that due to acute shortages of PPE it approves the ‘sessional and reuse of PPE’.
Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: “Unite Scotland is calling on the Scottish government to prevent an escalation in the health and safety threat following the alarming reports of hospitals having to reuse personal protective equipment, which is a national scandal. This is completely unacceptably and compromises worker and public safety. For the HSE also to issue guidance stating that in certain circumstances equipment can be reused is beyond belief.
“Unite passed on details of identified suppliers in Germany and China to the Scottish government through the STUC last week to accelerate the purchasing of protective equipment. These products could be ordered immediately. In addition, we repeat our call to work with us to approach a number of Scottish based manufacturing firms who can help address this crisis by altering their operations in order to start producing the necessary equipment needed to keep workers and the public safe.”