Accusations a Scottish Government minister was trying to dodge hours of overtime during the global COP26 climate summit sparked a row over “macho” attitudes in the work place.
Greens co-leader Lorna Slater was criticised by political opponents after an email of her working expectations over the summit emerged.
But it led to a backlash with some MSPs defending an already heavy work-load and the need for a reasonable work-life balance.
It also provoked claims of misogyny.
‘She can’t be working 14 days straight’
According to an email published by the Sun, Ms Slater wanted to limit her workload to two things a day at the eco conference in Glasgow.
The email, sent to civil servants, stated: “It may be feasible to do three things in a day if they are all nearby one another and don’t require much preparation.
“Consideration should also be given to any evening events in Glasgow where the Minister may be very late (post 10pm) getting home in which case there should be a later start the following day.
“The Minister commented that she can’t be working 14 days straight — she needs two full days completely off, they don’t need to be consecutive.”
We already knew the Green Ministers’ jobs were made up – but I hadn’t realised they were part-time.
– Labour MSP Colin Smyth
Labour MSP Colin Smyth criticised her in strong terms, calling her “part-time” and questioning her commitment.
“We already knew the Green Ministers’ jobs were made up – but I hadn’t realised they were part-time,” he claimed.
“This staggering set of rules from Lorna Slater show just how out-of-touch the Greens really are – and how little interest they have in delivering a green agenda.”
But his Labour party colleague Mercedes Villalba, a North East MSP, shot back.
“If we’re serious about encouraging a diverse range of candidates to stand for Parliament, this macho attitude to work has to end,” she responded.
It's not "making a fuss" to ask for 1 day off a week. It's not "lazy" to attend 2 events a day alongside Ministerial duties.
If we're serious about encouraging a diverse range of candidates to stand for Parliament, this macho attitude to work has to end.
— Mercedes Villalba MSP (@LabourMercedes) January 17, 2022
Green MSP Ross Greer also defended his party co-leader and condemned a “misogynist pile-on”.
He wrote online: “How unsurprising that Colin Smyth is fuelling a misogynist pile-on against a government minister for daring to ask for two days off in an otherwise intensely busy fourteen day stretch.”
I see @Ross_Greer indulging in usual gaslighting smears. No mention from me about anyone not having 2 days off. Suppose it detracts from his sell-out Green Government👇🏻
public energy company ❌
right to food ❌
cuts to rail services ✅
record rail fares ✅
cuts to councils ✅ https://t.co/OhyVXM2H1h
— Colin Smyth MSP (@colinsmythmsp) January 17, 2022
Scottish Government bosses claim Ms Slater was working hard during COP26.
The Greens chief had missed the first week of the conference after being forced to self-isolate with Covid.
A spokesperson said: “All Scottish ministers worked hard throughout COP26 to make it a success.
“In spite of having Covid for the first week, Ms Slater had a busy schedule of engagements and initiatives to demonstrate leadership on the climate emergency here in Scotland, including banning some of the most harmful single-use plastic products.”
What are Lorna Slater’s duties?
The Greens leader is expected to fulfill her ministerial role while also serving local constituents as an MSP.
As Scotland’s minister for green skills and biodiversity, Ms Slater met with environmental campaigners from across the globe during COP26.
She is the first politician to have held the post after it was created by Nicola Sturgeon last year.
Ms Slater was elected to Holyrood through the Lothian list in the May 2021 election, and serves the region along with six other MSPs.