Pardon the pun, but the recent severe weather has highlighted a few issues.
This was the first time a red weather alert had been issued and, to be fair, there were plenty of warnings given about the severity of the weather and its likely impact on traffic. Yet still too many people decided to ignore these and continue to travel. Buses were cancelled, planes were grounded and trains were left standing in railway stations – yet still some people felt they could jump in their cars and drive through one of the worst storms Scotland has seen in recent years.
And it wasn’t just the those in cars – roads were getting blocked by HGVs which clearly couldn’t cope with the road conditions. Of course, once they broke down roads were blocked and the delays increased. So far so good for BBC Scotland to roll out their usual anti-SNP, anti-Scotland propaganda. Journalists were dispatched to join the ever-lengthening queues and road blocks to interview distressed travellers who ignored all the warnings and decided that they knew better.
However, unlike previous attempts by BBC Scotland and the mainstream media, there seemed to be more of a reaction against these drivers with more people starting to question why did they ignore the warnings? STV news didn’t help matters either when they sent out reporters to copy BBC Scotland’s approach and stupidly filmed themselves parked in the hard shoulder commenting on the trouble on the roads – I thought this area of the motorway was meant to be kept clear for emergencies – surely the STV ‘journalists’ don’t think they’re now an emergency service?
In some cases it was sheer stupidity by drivers who thought they knew best and that warnings weren’t for the likes of them. However, there was also the issue of some drivers who were effectively forced out by poor employers, this included many delivery drivers working having to make up their hours or not getting paid. The reactions from the Transport Minister and First Minister that they would speak to transport companies was welcomed by most people.
During such severe weather when the police said it wasn’t safe to drive, no employer should have forced out employees. It was bad enough that essential staff had to still find a way of getting to work – whether that was within the NHS, local care homes or community care services – but the actions of some employers to bully staff to come into work – such as the franchise holder for the MacDonald restaurants in Glasgow was shameful. Is the need to sell fast food more important than the lives of your staff? Obviously not to him.
Hopefully the Scottish Government, all other public agencies and employers will take the time to review what happened over the severe weather and implement policies to ensure that no workers are put at risk. The Scottish Government has already met with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) to discuss a way forward, let’s hope everyone can see some sense before we face another storm.