STUC Update 03 April  2020

STUC Update 03 April 2020


As the Scottish Government’s focus on the economic impact of Covid-19 continues, the STUC will be providing regular bulletins to signpost you to the latest sources of information.


From our colleagues at the STUC: 

As the Scottish Government’s focus on the economic impact of Covid-19 continues, we will be providing regular bulletins to signpost you to the latest sources of information. We hope that you will find this useful and share with your networks where appropriate.

At today’s media briefing, the First Minister gave an update on the Scottish Government’s approach to testing key workers and how capacity can be increased.   She also said that Health Protection Scotland are due to publish updated guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical staff and how it should be used at this stage in the outbreak.  Full details are available here

The First Minister’s speech is available in full here

It was confirmed last night that the COP26 UN climate change conference that was set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to COVID-19. 

Advice on support packages available for businesses and their employees is available at

There is an HMRC helpline for tax issues at 0800 015 9559.

NHS Inform’s coronavirus webpage is the fastest way for people to get the latest health advice and information.


  • New guidance on PPE has been published by the Scottish Government and by the UK Government
  • A new Scottish Government email address ([email protected]) has been made available for people to report gaps in PPE or other concerns.
  • A new method of recording deaths in Scotland has been introduced incorporating community deaths.
  • The UK Government has outlined a new target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month, including for all frontline workers who need them.
  • The UK Government lockdown exit strategy now appears to be dependent on antibody tests (as opposed to antigen tests) which are not yet fit for use.

Scottish Government announcements

  • 126 people have died in Scotland so far, an increase of 50 since yesterday. However, the figure contains 40 deaths not previously counted and a new method of recording deaths, including non-hospital deaths, from Covid-19 is to be introduced.
  • New guidance on how to use PPE published.
  • New email address ([email protected]) available for people to report gaps in what they need or other concerns.
  • Bespoke briefing to be arranged for journalists about how deaths are being reported.
  • The Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, hinted that lockdown measures are here for a while but could look at lifting them after a 12-week period.

UK Government announcements

The daily press conference was led by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and focussed on testing.

  • New target of 100,000 tests a day before the end of the month. This also comes with a commitment that every NHS worker that needs a test will get it by the end of the month.
  • Admitted to challenges in ramping up testing including: lack of industrial capacity; a shortage of swabs and reagents; prioritisation challenges; and poor performance of antibody tests to date. 
  • Outlined a five pillar plan to reassure people on the Government approach to testing: 1. NHS Swab testing primarily for patients, 2. Private industry and university swab testing – aimed at frontline workers and starting from the weekend, 3. antibody blood tests that can be done at home (although still being evaluated). 4. Surveillance – population sampling and cohort testing. 5. Building industry capacity.   
  • The 100,000 target is across both antigen and antibody tests. It seems the antibody tests, of which 17.5 million have been bought, have not performed well in their initial evaluations. They also can’t be done ‘until, ideally, 28 days after the infection’.
  • The prioritisation for testing remains 1. patients who need it, 2.  NHS staff who need it, 3. wider population testing.
  • Public Health England today published new guidance on frontline use of PPE. 
  • £13.4 billion of NHS Trust debt will be written off to allow them to concentrate on delivery.
  • Absence rates in NHS England are currently 8%.
  • There was what appeared to be recognition from advisers that the lockdown is likely to last longer than a couple of weeks.
  • Matt Hancock suggested Premier League footballers should ‘play their part and take a pay cut’.

Other announcements

  • Preliminary findings from STUC’s survey of more than 1,100 workers will be published tomorrow.
  • Almost a quarter of Scottish Prison Service Staff are absent from work
  • New weekly US unemployment claims hit a record high of 6.6m. 10 million workers have been laid-off in the last two weeks.
  • The TUC have published guidance for reps on dealing with coronavirus. 
  • Health expert and friend of the trade union movement, Allyson Pollock, has published a critique of the UK Government’s tracing, testing and treating strategy (or lack thereof) in the BMJ, amid suggestions that public health experts have been side-lined in favour behavioural scientists. The lack of contact tracing would appear to leave the Government lockdown exit strategy now dependent on antibody testing.

More from Scottish Trade Union Congress here


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