Unite the union today (Thursday 7 April) confirmed that it has demanded urgent intervention from the First Minister and Scottish Government ministers over the future of the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab.

Unite, which represents the workforce including sample handlers and lab technicians, has expressed concerns about the public health impact of the decision by both the Scottish and UK governments to abolish testing at the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab.  

Last week, Glasgow University was left with no alternative other than to enter into a formal 45-day consultation period on redundancies with Unite due to the lack of funding and pending contracts.  

If no resolution can be found it is anticipated that contractual notice will be served on around 745 experienced and highly skilled employees with contracts terminating as early as 14 May 2022.  Unite is taking legal advice on the contractual position of its members.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “The Glasgow Lighthouse Lab workforce is at the heart of protecting public health in Scotland and at a time when Covid rates continue to run high, it is a disgrace that hundreds of highly skilled jobs, knowledge and experience are potentially going to be lost. 

“Unite is determined to protect our members and will explore every option, including legal ones, to fully defend their jobs, pay and conditions.” 

From as far back as December 2021, Unite has repeatedly sought assurances over funding for the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab from government ministers. 

An eleventh hour agreement by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to extend the contract with Glasgow University until September 2022 was agreed with the workforce being advised that their roles would be safe until then. It now appears this commitment is being reneged upon. 

The Glasgow Lighthouse Lab sits in the heart of the Govan community, one of the most deprived areas in the city, offering employment opportunities to the local community.  

Alison Maclean, Unite industrial officer, added: “There has been no commitment from the Scottish Government to extend the funding or redeploy this critically important workforce.  Covid numbers, hospitalisation and deaths have increased in Scotland, and notwithstanding the future impact of Covid variants, this grave uncertainty for 745 workers is bewildering and dangerous.

“Unite is demanding that the Scottish Government urgently review the decision to wind down testing in the interests of public health, and immediately move to ensure that the skilled workforce at the Lighthouse Lab are supported.” 

Unite understands that there is currently a tender process ongoing for a small amount of residual “resilience/surge” testing work, as well as work for the Office of National Statistics. 

It is estimated that this work would only retain around 120 roles. The trade union is demanding that any tenders are expedited to allow as many at risk workers the opportunity to be retained.


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