Unite the union has today (24 March) demanded that the Scottish and UK governments give ‘crystal clear’ advice to employers and workers in light of 700 workers being asked to attend work by McAlpine Plumbing based in Glasgow.

It has been reported to the union that multiple facilities of McAlpine Plumbing including ones based at Coatbridge, Hillington, Johnstone, North Cardonald and Thornliebank remain open despite the first minister stating yesterday (23 March) that workplaces including construction linked operations should close with immediate effect.

Unite has been informed that many of the workers are having to use public transport in order to comply with the employer’s request as it is categorising the workers as ‘essential’. Unite has also repeatedly warned government over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and that workers are often only inches away from each other during a time when individuals are meant to be maintaining social distancing and strict hygiene measures.

David McGurk, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Unite was informed this morning (24 March) that McAlpine Plumbing which has multiple operations across greater Glasgow is categorising its workforce as essential which we believe to be totally incorrect.

"Around 700 workers have travelled to work with many working inches away from each other and who also having to use public transport to get into work, and thereafter to make their way home. The company’s factories often have up to 200 workers with toilet and canteen facilities being shared.

"Unite’s members are rightly concerned about their safety but they are also worried that if they go home then they will not receive their wages. So, we are demanding that the Scottish and UK governments give crystal clear advice to employers that if workers are not deemed essential then they should be sent home with immediate effect and that there should be no detrimental impact on their pay.”


Notes to editors: 

For more about Unite's work during the coronavirus crisis to keep workers and the public safe, and to protect jobs and incomes, click here.

Notes to editors:

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.