Union chiefs claim city gravediggers are being forced to work without proper
Covid-19 safety measures and putting their health at risk – while bosses continue to work from home.
The Dundee branch of the GMB is now demanding that environmental department workers are stood down immediately.
The row centres around gravediggers who were told to go to work while their manager allegedly told them he was staying at home.
The union has also submitted a collective grievance against the council citing health and safety legislation, which blames them for the virus outbreak among staff.
Among the claims the union is making is that there have been no efforts made to limit the number of workers or change shifts so one group is not coming into contact with another.
GMB also alleges gardeners are being asked to carry out work which can wait until the summer, such as pruning bushes, which is deemed not essential for this time of year.
Helen Meldrum, GMB Scotland Organiser said: “The first minister has stated that we are in lockdown and that employers should not be looking for loopholes to try to have as many people as they can at work, yet that is exactly what Dundee City Council are doing.
“The guidance does state that outside work can continue but it also states that they should have the ‘minimum levels of staff physically present to maintain production and services’.
Ms Meldrum claimed about 100 groundsman, gardeners and gravediggers had either tested positive or been forced to self-isolate.
“The minimum level is the guidance for work critical to the national infrastructure of Scotland yet workers are currently being made to attend work to carry out work that cannot even be carried out in winter, while their manager works from home,” said Ms Meldrum.
“That is astonishingly arrogant. These managers are being completely irresponsible and GMB Scotland will no longer accept them playing fast and loose with our members’ health.
“We completely understand that gravedigger work is essential but again, no attempt has been made to mitigate the amount of people who are required to work and when.
“We do not expect gravediggers to be made to be at work, increasing their risk of contracting and passing on Covid-19, when there are no burials.
“We expect that the majority of GMB workers are stood down as a matter of urgency and that we agree a return when it is appropriate to do so in a safe way.
“These measures will provide further protection for key workers like NHS staff by reducing the possibility of this workforce contracting the virus.”
Dundee City Council said the safety of its staff is “a top priority” and thanked those who had continued to work during the pandemic.
A spokesman said: “We meet regularly with the trade unions, corporately and also at individual service level, to provide information and to listen to issues that require addressed.
“The council has been robust in its approach to risk assessments and safe systems of work, taking all the national guidance into consideration.
“Engagement with the trade unions will actively continue so that we can listen to concerns and provide explanation for service delivery continuing.”