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Rennie reveals 1 in 10 emergency call centre handlers off sick

March 4, 2019 4:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie has today has warned of a potential "exodus" of experienced call handlers and demanded the Scottish Government take action to address "unreasonable" pay changes, as he reveals 1 in 10 emergency call centre handlers are currently off sick.

In early February, Willie Rennie wrote to the Scottish Police Authority and Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, raising concerns about the cuts and warning of low staff morale given the plans which will see a significant reduction in the shift allowances for back and night shift staff. This could amount to several thousand pounds a year loss in salary.

At last week's FMQs, Willie Rennie raised concerns about the changes to staff pay and conditions at the centres. The First Minister said the change was "still under discussion".

Sources have told the Scottish Liberal Democrats there are 51 call centre handlers currently off sick between the centres in Govan, Bilston and Motherwell.

Willie Rennie commented:

"Police call centre workers in Govan, Bilston and Motherwell are facing pay cuts and unreasonable changes to their conditions. Now we find one in ten are off sick, so colleagues are having to shoulder that burden as well.

"I've warned the First Minister these ill-thought through changes are endangering staff morale and ultimately the stability of the service. We would face a real crisis if there was an exodus of experienced call handlers.

"The Fatal Accident Inquiry into the M9 crash, which was handled by Bilston Glen, has still not been conducted. The full circumstances and lessons have not yet been learned and already more cuts are being considered on the SNP's watch. They're sleepwalking into another blunder.

"In the long-term this is an unhealthy move for the precious call centres that are the foundations of our emergency services. Warning lights are flashing. Ministers need to take a long hard look at the past and step in to stop these cuts."