Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde has paid tribute to local frontline workers during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on International Workers’ Memorial Day (Tuesday 28 April 2020).
During his almost 13 years as an MSP, Stuart has worked alongside Action on Asbestos (formerly Clydeside Action on Asbestos) to improve the support given to workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
This work has resulted in Stuart introducing the Liability for NHS Charges (Treatment of Industrial Disease) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament last month. The aim of the Bill is to allow the NHS to get back the cost of treating industrial diseases by making negligent employers liable for hospital costs. It also covers family members of a person exposed to hazardous substances.
Commenting, Stuart said:
“The world is in the midst of a public health pandemic and it is frontline workers who are leading the fight against the Coronavirus.
“Different jobs expose workers to different risks, and there is no doubt that some workers are more at-risk of contracting COVID-19 as a direct result of their job. This applies to health and social care workers, retail workers, emergency service workers, postal workers and transport workers to name just a few.
“While COVID-19 is not an industrial disease as such, it’s crucial that on International Workers’ Memorial Day that we pay tribute and offer our sincere thanks to all those who are making sacrifices to be at the frontline of Scotland’s response to the outbreak. Many frontline workers have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19, including a nurse from Inverclyde.
“I cannot thank Inverclyde’s frontline workers enough. Their families will be finding this time hard as well as they worry about their mother, father, daughter, or son being exposed to COVID-19.
“In 2020 just as it was in 1920, risks faced by certain workers – typically the lowest paid – are more significant compared with other roles. These workers and their families should be compensated and supported if they become ill because of their job. However, it should not be the taxpayer that bears the burden of the cost of this support – negligent employers should be held accountable and liable.
“That is why my Member’s Bill is so important – because whether it’s asbestos or COVID-19, employers must do more to protect their workers from harm.
“International Workers’ Memorial Day is a reminder to us all that some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, and as COVID-19 has made abundantly clear, many of these jobs are undertaken by key workers.”