SNP, Tory and Liberal MSPs yesterday, sadly but predictably, turned their collective backs on violence at work and voted down the Protection of Workers Bill. Lots of apparent concern about the issue, but no action.
At least the Tories have been consistent opponents of this legislative approach. It fits in well with their Westminster colleagues who are devastating the Heath & Safety Executive with 35% cuts and undermining safety at work through the Young Report. At least 20,000 workers die every year in the UK as a consequence of work, but safety is not to be taken seriously by them.
The Liberals used to support this approach but have now decided to follow their UK Tory coalition partners on this as with other matters. If you read some of their replies to constituents, you would be surprised that they actually voted against. But as recent revelations in the Telegraph have shown, they share that approach in common with their Westminster colleagues.
The SNP also used to support this approach, in fact they had a manifesto commitment to extend the EWA. However, they have been unwilling to extend this coverage to other workers, many of whom suffer far greater levels of violence at work. The honourable exception are those SNP backbenchers who allowed the Bill to proceed, mostly from a trade union background, who obviously have a better understanding of workplace realities.
Overall we got much more rhetoric yesterday from a majority of MSPs. What the thousands of workers who daily face violence at work are looking for is action.