Home carers in Glasgow are to be balloted for industrial action as their union said it had no confidence in plans for workplace testing of Covid-19.
GMB Scotland said more than 1,700 of its members will take part in a three-week ballot over concerns at Glasgow City Council’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HCSP).
It will run from from Tuesday January 19 to Monday February 8.
The union said services in the HSCP could be affected by action as early as Monday February 22.
It criticised the HSCP and the Scottish Government over a lack of clarity on workplace testing and claimed staff have had problems with getting the coronavirus vaccine.
GMB Scotland organiser David Hume 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 10 months for workplace testing, and some are already encountering problems getting their first vaccine.”
He added: “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.
“We are a week away from the testing roll-out and we still don’t know what kind of test home carers will receive, how it will be distributed or how it will be administered.
“The interests of these key workers have been consistently forgotten and they are being treated negligently by their employer, and this Government.”
A Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership spokeswoman said: “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 1,800 home care staff are vaccinated by the end of the month.
“A progress report on this was given to the unions, including the GMB, at a meeting at noon yesterday. 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.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The care at home workforce is critically important to supporting the health and wellbeing of many in Scotland – particularly during the pandemic – and works across a wide range of settings.
“We will begin to start rolling out testing from January 18 to all care at home staff, including to care at home services in Glasgow.
“We are disappointed that GMB union has chosen to go down this route as a Delivery Group, which includes representatives from the unions, has met regularly to discuss the challenges and make this happen and will meet again on Thursday for final discussions.
“The diverse range and number of services has created some delivery tests but by working together with partners we have a strong plan in place which increases the protections in place for recipients of care and those that provide that care.
“Meanwhile, across Scotland, vaccination teams are working around the clock.
“By the first week in February, all of JCVI priority group 1 and 2 – which includes care at home workers – will have been offered their first vaccine dose.”