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TSSA calls on Scottish Education Minister to get clear about childcare places for key transport workers

26 March 2020

TSSA today (Thursday) called on Scottish Education Minister John Swinney to get clear with councils about operational transport workers' "key worker" status as rail workers have been forced to stay home because their children can't get a childcare place.

In a letter to Swinney TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes wrote the Scottish government’s lack of clarity has devolved decision making to councils, leading to inconsistencies across Scotland over whether operational transport staff are able to access school places for their children.

Cortes said “Our members doing operational roles within our railways tell me that parents in Renfrewshire have been unable to get a place for their children in school, whilst parents in Glasgow can. Not only does this leave the railway more understaffed but ScotRail are refusing special leave with pay to parents who stay home, forcing them to stay home on zero pay.

Cortes added “in many cases both parents work for the rail industry meaning they have no alternative but to lose a wage to look after their children. This is crazy at a time when the country is reliant on the rail industry to get NHS workers, firefighters and police to work.”

Cortes said. “The decision to close schools was one taken by the Scottish government, but unlike the rest of the UK they’ve not set a national policy on which key workers qualify for a childcare place. Instead the strategy of the Scottish Government seems to be to set councils up to take the blame for the decision. Right now, Scotland needs leadership, not buck-passing from their government.

“No-one can seriously think that ScotRail could manage without their control room – the railway equivalent to Air Traffic Control – or other safety critical staff.

“John Swinney needs to work with Transport Minister Michael Matheson and order all councils to give childcare places to key transport workers for the sake of Scotland’s wellbeing.”

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