UK GOVT MUST URGENTLY U-TURN ON PLANS TO REMOVE £20 BENEFITS UPLIFT

Thousands of people in Paisley will be plunged into poverty as the UK government plans to end vital coronavirus support to people receiving benefits such as Universal Credit.

Thousands of people in Paisley rely on Universal Credit but are now set to lose out on the £20-a-week uplift brought in to provide a lifeline during the pandemic.

Geroge Adam MSP

The Tory government is set to take away the uplift and reinstate the Minimum Income Floor by April 2021. A Scottish Government report calculates that the decision will cost households in Scotland up to £476million.

Commenting on the news Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“The Tories’ proposals to withdraw this £20 uplift in April would pull the rug out from under thousands of families in our town at a time when they need support the most.

“The pandemic is not over yet – so the UK government needs to reconsider these plans and tailor them for the needs of people who are either out of work or whose self-employed income has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19.

“I would urge the UK government to take into consideration the impact this decision will have on people in areas like Paisley and urgently reverse it.

“The SNP Government is doing all it can to support families who are struggling, by introducing game-changing benefits like the Scottish Child Payment, and we will continue to build a benefits system that is kind, caring and compassionate with the limited powers we currently hold.

“But only an independent Scotland would give the Scottish Government full social security powers to build a fair system that gives families the support they need.”

RENFREWSHIRE MOVED UP INTO TIER 4

Following the First Minister’s address to the Scottish Parliament on the 17th November, Renfrewshire has been moved into Tier 4 with the public being asked to stay at home where possible, and continue to be increasingly vigilant and careful so as to slow the spread of coronavirus within the community and protect the NHS.

The decision to move Renfrewshire and neighbouring local authorities into Tier 4 is due to no sustained improvement in the number of cases over the last week, continued evidence of projected pressure on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, and in anticipation of winter pressures so as to ensure there is sufficient NHS capacity to meet demand.

Like with Tier 3, anyone living in Renfrewshire must not travel outside the local authority area unless travelling for essential reasons such as work, healthcare, or caring responsibilities, and indoor visits to any household outside your own or extended household is prohibited.

Tier 4 level restrictions also mean all non-essential shops must close along with cafes, restaurants, pubs, hairdressing and beauty salons, and all other leisure facilities which were allowed to remain open – albeit under select circumstances – in Tier 3.

While this is not the decision the First Minister wanted to make, these further restrictions are necessary in light of the increase in positive COVID-19 cases and those admitted to hospital over the past week.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said:

“I am acutely aware that for many individuals and businesses these decisions will be disappointing and distressing. They demand more sacrifice from all of us.

“However they are necessary to ensure that the NHS can cope with the range of pressures it will face over the winter, and will give us the best possible chance – albeit in a limited and careful way – of being able to ease restrictions in all parts of Scotland for Christmas.

“We must get through the next few months as safely as possible – and that means tough decisions can’t be avoided, no matter how much you, and I, fervently wish they could be.

“Notwithstanding the difficult decisions today for significant parts of the country, the levels system is still allowing us to avoid a national, one size fits all lockdown such as is currently in place in England. In order to sustain this it is essential that we all abide by travel restrictions and to underline how important this is, I can confirm that the guidance that has been in place in recent weeks will become law from Friday.

“I can never thank everyone enough for all the sacrifices that are being made. And I will never underestimate how difficult it is. But I hold to the belief that love and solidarity – albeit with a lot of help from science – we will get us through this. And that soon we will be looking back on it, not living through it.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“While I know this is not what anyone in our town was hoping for, I am sure we can all agree that it is vitally important that we get the rising number of cases under control as quickly as possible so as to protect our health service coming into winter, and protect our friends, families, and loved ones from becoming unwell.

“The next three weeks will undoubtedly be challenging but the hope is that introducing tighter restrictions now will allow us to have a bit of respite over Christmas and the festive period – and I know that will give solace to many who are struggling right now.

“It is crucial as we move forward to continue to think of FACTS in everything that we do, and to follow the updated guidance and restrictions to the letter.

“Our tiered system in Scotland allows for a more tailored approach to the blanket lockdown we experienced back in March so it is imperative that we do not breach the travel restrictions that will become law on Friday.

“Although we are now living with tier 4 in Paisley, we must not leave the Renfrewshire area to take advantage of the lower restrictions in other parts of the country as this would only selfishly put other local authorities’ progress in jeopardy – and in turn effect the whole country and our collective hopes for an easier festive period. “To echo the First Minister, I know things may seem bleak right now but the end of this pandemic is within our grasp if we all come together and do our part for the good of the nation.”

RENFREWSHIRE COVID-19 UPDATE

Following the First Minister’s briefing on the 10th November, Renfrewshire remains in Tier 3 with the public being asked to be increasingly vigilant and careful so as to slow the spread of coronavirus within the community and protect the NHS.

While there is no immediate requirement to move any local authorities into Level 4 – the highest level – this is being kept under strict review and will be evaluated regularly in line with the most up to date data and scientific evidence.

Anyone living in Renfrewshire must not travel outside the local authority area unless travelling for essential reasons such as work, healthcare, or caring responsibilities, and indoor visits to any household outside your own or extended household is still prohibited.

The First Minister again stressed the importance of travel restrictions in bringing down the infection rate of the virus and acknowledged the sacrifices being made across the country.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The sacrifices everyone is making are hard – and they feel never-ending. But they are helping. They have made a difference, and they are saving lives. There is no doubt that the restrictions we have put in place have dramatically slowed the spread of the virus.

“But hospital admissions are still too high. The number of new cases we are seeing – more than 1,000 a day on average – is also too high. And we cannot be sure that we are seeing a sustained fall in cases.

“As I have said repeatedly in recent days, a rising or even plateauing rate of infection is not a stable position. We want to see a decline in cases. And so we will be monitoring the situation carefully in the days ahead.

“In light of the situation I have just outlined, it would clearly not be prudent to ease restrictions today.”

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, is urging Renfrewshire residents to keep following the rules, keep up to date with the most current guidance, and to keep looking out for each other as best as they can.

George said:

“This year has certainly been a challenging one but as Paisley and wider Renfrewshire remains in Tier 3, it is clear that we are not out of the woods yet and must therefore keep doing all we can to slow the spread of COVID and ultimately help save lives in our community.

“I know many of my constituents were hoping for better news and will be disappointed to see our town remaining in Tier 3, but the hard decisions we’re all making are working and keeping our friends, families, and neighbours safe.

“If we keep following the rules and up to date guidance, we will come out of this stronger than before.”

Further information and advice on local protection levels can be accessed at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/

CHANCELLOR MUST “GET A GRIP” OF GROWING TORY UK UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS AS SNP CALL FOR MORE ACTION TO PROTECT JOBS, BUSINESSES AND INCOMES

The SNP has said the Chancellor must do more to “get a grip” of the growing Tory UK unemployment crisis – as new figures reveal rising UK unemployment and record redundancies.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Market Survey, published this morning, revealed the UK unemployment rate has risen to 4.8%, with 782,000 fewer people in employment since March, and the number of redundancies at a record high of 314,000 – a record increase of 181,000 on the quarter.

In Scotland, the employment rate estimate rose over the quarter to 74.0% and the unemployment rate estimate was unchanged over the quarter at 4.5%. 

The Scottish Government has announced additional support including a £60 million Young Person’s Guarantee, to ensure everyone aged between 16 and 24 has the opportunity of work, education or training, and a £25 million National Transition Training Fund to help up to 10,000 people aged 25 and over, who have lost their jobs or are at risk of redundancy, to develop the skills required to move into sectors with the greatest potential for growth.

Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The Chancellor must get a grip of the growing Tory UK unemployment crisis – and do more to protect people’s jobs, businesses and incomes.

“The SNP has been warning for months that the UK faces a winter of mass redundancies if the Tory government fails to act – and the evidence is now demonstrating that fact. For many, the long-overdue Tory U-turn on furlough cuts came far too late – causing thousands to lose their jobs unnecessarily and forcing many good businesses to go under.

“With UK unemployment rising, and redundancies at record levels, it’s crucial the Tory government urgently fixes the gaps, which have seen millions excluded, and delivers meaningful investment to stimulate the economy, support businesses, and boost people’s incomes – including making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits.

“We cannot afford a return to the lasting social damage that Tory mass unemployment in the 1980s and 1990s caused to communities across the UK. Millions have already seen their incomes slashed and many more jobs could be lost if action isn’t taken now.

“In Scotland, the SNP government is taking the action it can, including by introducing the £60million Young Person’s Guarantee, the £25 million National Transition Training Fund, and continued support for businesses and workers – but with the full economic powers of an independent country we could do so much more.

“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. By withholding investment and blocking the devolution of financial powers, the Tory government has hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, who has long been critical of the UK Government’s disregard for Scotland, said:

“Frankly, at this point I don’t think the people of Scotland need any more reason to have no faith in the UK Government.

“The constant confusion, lack of clarity and yoyo-ing on critical decisions is abysmal and now it is affecting real people and real jobs. The time it took Boris and his cronies to extend the furlough scheme has been far too late for thousands of workers and that is just not acceptable – especially when people in our town suffer at their expense.

“For too long the people of Paisley have been let down by Westminster and to play politics during a global pandemic is just not on in my book. The Scottish Government are doing all they can to mitigate the real impact COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions are having on peoples’ lives – but unfortunately they’re having to do this with one hand tied being their back.

“Westminster need to act now or let the Scottish Government have full control over its own finances and resources so they can continue to act in the best interests of the Scottish people and do what’s right.”

GEORGE ADAM ASKS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ABOUT FUNDING FOR LOCAL BUS NETWORKS

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, asks the Scottish Government when funding for bus priority infrastructure will be made available to local authorities and has welcomed the announcement that the Bus Partnership Fund has been launched.

The new Bus Partnership Fund will support local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to tackle the negative impact of congestion on bus services so that bus journeys are quicker and more reliable – encouraging more people to travel by bus.

The Fund will complement the new powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 and will enable local authorities and bus operators to work together to make bus use more attractive, increasing bus usage and patronage, and in turn lead to greater investment, better services and importantly successful green recovery.

In answer to George Adam’s question, Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said:

“In the 2020 Programme for Government, the First Minister re-affirmed our commitment to the landmark investment of over £500 million in bus priority infrastructure.

“We had paused work on that during the pandemic for obvious reasons, but now we want to look ahead. I am therefore pleased to announce that the Bus Partnership Fund will be launched today.

“This will support local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to tackle the negative impact of congestion on bus services so that bus journeys are quicker and more reliable, encouraging more people to travel by bus.

“I believe that partnership is key and I want to see ambitious proposals placing bus priority at the heart of holistic sustainable transport futures, linking with active travel alongside further action and investment from local authorities and bus operators.”

George Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP said:

“I’m delighted by this announcement and am really looking forward to how increased funding and ambitions decisions will positively impact bus services right here in our town.

“Having a reliable and timely bus network in Paisley is a lifeline for so many so I hope this new fund will encourage others to use public transport and explore our town.

“The Scottish Government have long made accessible and reliable public transport a key priority; not only to ensure all Scots can get out and about safely, but also as part of their ongoing commitment to protecting the environment and making sure Scotland is as green as possible.”

FURLOUGH U-TURN, AFTER SIX MONTHS OF SNP PRESSURE, IS LONG-OVERDUE

The SNP has welcomed the long-overdue Tory U-turn on furlough support but said it is “far too late” for thousands of workers who have already been made redundant after months of Tory cuts, delays and uncertainty.

Responding to the Chancellor’s statement, Alison Thewliss MP said Rishi Sunak had been forced into this shambolic last-minute U-turn after six months of pressure from the SNP and devolved governments – and said it was “a democratic disgrace” that Westminster was only willing to act when England faced lockdown and not when Scotland needed support.

The SNP Shadow Chancellor said the Tory government had hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to the crisis by withholding funds and blocking the devolution of financial powers – and said the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.

Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:

“This long-overdue Tory U-turn is welcome but it comes after six months of sustained pressure from the SNP and devolved governments, who have consistently called for a full furlough extension but were repeatedly told ‘no’ by Westminster.

“The Chancellor has been forced into this shambolic last-minute U-turn after months of Tory cuts, delays and uncertainty. For many it is far too late. Thousands have already lost their jobs, many good businesses have gone under, and millions have been excluded completely. The UK faces a Tory unemployment crisis – and the blame lies squarely with Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.


“It is a democratic disgrace that Westminster was only willing to act when England faced lockdown and not when Scotland needed support – proving yet again that Scotland will never be an equal partner in the UK. By withholding funding and blocking the devolution of financial powers, the Tory government has hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis.

“We await the full details of this announcement, to ensure Scotland will receive full 80 per cent furlough and self-employed support, on current eligibility, with the gaps in the system filled, whenever it is required by the Scottish Government in future. That it will apply equally at 80 per cent to people in all tiers of restrictions, and that Scotland will get its full share of Barnett consequentials from support for businesses and local government in England.

“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. Other countries have used the powers at their disposal while Tory cuts and delays have caused unemployment to soar. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP said:

“I’ve said since the beginning of this pandemic that this is not the time to play party politics but the actions of the UK Government this week – going back and forth on furlough support for Scotland – has been abysmal.

“Playing favourites here when the main aim of the Government should be saving lives, protecting the NHS, and making sure people’s livelihoods are saved and there for them when we return to some semblance of normality is disgraceful.

“I am obviously very happy that Paisley buddies worried about their job security and future employment have now been given the clarity they need if Scotland needs to go back into lockdown, but at this point – after months and months of pleas from the Scottish Government and our MPs down in Westminster – it is long overdue and may even be too late for those who have already been made redundant.

“I’m tired of seeing my constituents and the people of Scotland being treated like second class citizens in this supposed UK partnership of equals, and the yo-yo act this past week only emphasises how much disrespect Westminster has for our country and our people.

“I wish I could say I’m surprised by this turn of events but after years of nothing more than disregard and contempt, this seems par for the course. We deserve much better than this so I can only urge those still on the fence about Scottish Independence to take a long and hard look at how we’ve been treated during this pandemic – and honestly, how we’ve been treated for years.

”There are definitely better days coming for us, but I don’t think it will be as part of the United Kingdom where we are not respected or regarded in the slightest.”

PAISLEY’S MSP BACKS CALLS FOR TIGHTER CONTROLS ON FIREWORKS

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, has welcomed calls for a fundamental shift in the way fireworks are bought and sold in Scotland.

The independent Firework Review Group, established by the Scottish Government, has called for the introduction of no firework zones and tighter restrictions on the use of fireworks to help tackle anti-social behaviour at this time of year.  

The group, chaired by former Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay, also recommended:

• The introduction of mandatory conditions when fireworks are purchased from retailers

• Restricting the times of day fireworks can be sold and volume of fireworks that can be purchased at any one time

• Restricting the days and times fireworks can be set off

• The creation of a proxy purchasing offence to prevent adults from buying fireworks on behalf of those under the age of 18

Welcoming the recommendations, George said:

“Here in Paisley, and right across Scotland, there is widespread public support to crack down on the negative impact of anti-social firework use.

“This SNP Government is determined to make these recommendations a reality and help keep our local communities safe from the harmful use of fireworks.  

“Tomorrow is Bonfire Night, and I would ask those who plan on using fireworks to do so responsibly and be mindful of their neighbours – the noise of fireworks can have a real impact on those with sensory issues, on pets and on livestock. Stay safe.”

Chair of the Review Group and former Chief Fire Officer, Alasdair Hay, said:

“I am pleased to set out the recommendations from the Firework Review Group.  We have carefully considered the available evidence and believe a step change is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used by the general public.

“This is not to prevent adults using fireworks sensibly and safely – rather, to ensure all safety requirements are fully understood and adhered to, and the impact on others has been fully #considered.”

SNP DEMAND URGENT CLARITY ON FURLOUGH SUPPORT FOR SCOTLAND AS TORIES ATTEMPT TO ROLL-BACK PRIME MINISTER’S COMMITMENT

The SNP has demanded urgent clarity that the Treasury will make full furlough payments, at 80 per cent, available to Scotland whenever it is requested by the Scottish Government in future – after a Tory Cabinet Minister attempted to roll-back on the Prime Minister’s commitment.

In response to a direct question from Ian Blackford MP yesterday, Boris Johnson gave the commitment at the despatch box in the House of Commons. But the Treasury has failed to confirm the details to journalists overnight – and Tory Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick would not make the same commitment in an interview with Sky News Kay Burley this morning, instead saying “that’s a decision that the Chancellor will have to make in the future.”

The Prime Minister has faced criticism for extending the Job Retention Scheme only when England faced a national lockdown – having repeatedly rejected calls for an extension from the SNP, and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, over the past six months.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:

“Boris Johnson must urgently confirm the commitment he made at the despatch box yesterday – that the Treasury will make full 80 per cent furlough payments available to Scotland, whenever it is requested by the Scottish Government, over the coming months.

“If the Prime Minister is already back-tracking it will prove, yet again, that you cannot trust a word he says – and that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK. 

“The evasion and confusion from the Tory government is disgraceful. We are in the middle of a pandemic – people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. It is crucial that the Scottish Government can take timely action to protect people’s lives, in the knowledge that full financial support will be available for workers and businesses whenever it is requested.

“That means full 80% furlough payments, with same eligibility as currently, and the same flexibility to apply to the self-employed scheme. Without these assurances the Tory government will be hindering Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis, and risk putting people’s lives and livelihoods under threat.

“This shambles has also become a serious question of judgement for Douglas Ross, who will be left without a shred of credibility if these commitments unravel having been so quick to claim credit despite his own eleventh-hour conversion.

“Whatever happens now, it is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam weighed in on the uncertainty and said:

“Frankly, this attitude from ‘our’ Government is absolutely disgraceful and the Tories should be utterly ashamed of themselves. This is not a game – people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. Scotland needs clarity, and we need it now.

“It’s bad enough that Boris and his cronies are still helplessly trying to defend their shameless decision to deprive children of free school meals over the holidays – they now won’t guarantee Scotland access to the furlough scheme in the future if we need it which will only make things even harder for families already experiencing financial hardship.

“This yo-yo act only emphasises how much disrespect Westminster has for our country and our people – I wish I could say I’m surprised by this turn of events but after years of nothing more than disregard and contempt, this seems par for the course.

“We deserve much better than this so I can only urge those still on the fence about Scottish Independence to take a long and hard look at how we’ve been treated during this pandemic – and honestly, how we’ve been treated for years.”

“GAME-CHANGER” SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT OPENS EARLY FOR APPLICATIONS

The new Scottish Child Payment – which has been described as a “game-changer” in the fight to tackle child poverty – will open early for applications this month.

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, has encouraged parents and carers in Paisley who are eligible to apply now so that the Scottish Government can process and start making payments as quickly as possible once the benefit starts in February next year.

The SNP Government has prioritised the early introduction of the new benefit, which will provide eligible families on low incomes with a child under 6, an extra £10 per week for each child.

Latest figures estimate that 194,000 children aged under-6 in Scotland will be eligible for the new Scottish Child Payment – with over 6,300 children set to benefit in Renfrewshire.

George Adam said: 

“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious, game-changing new benefit which will directly tackle child poverty right here in Paisley and across Scotland. 

“This support is needed more than ever, and it’s early introduction for under 6s – almost two years ahead of the original commitment for a new payment – will be a lifeline for so many families in our town.

“While the SNP does everything it can to tackle poverty, the Tories at Westminster are still helplessly trying to defend their shameless decision to deprive children of free school meals over the holidays as they simultaneously won’t guarantee Scotland access to the furlough scheme in the future if we need it. 

“Children and families simply shouldn’t have to depend on the whim of Boris Johnson’s callous Tory government to get through this Covid-19 crisis. 

“This benefit will be a lifeline for many children, young people and their families in Paisley so I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to apply as soon as possible.”

BACKLASH GROWS AS SCOTLAND IS DENIED FURLOUGH SUPPORT

The SNP has demanded an immediate U-turn on the Tory government’s decision to deny Scotland access to full furlough support outside of English lockdown periods.

Ian Blackford MP said the “outrageous” decision “demonstrates that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK” – and called for an urgent U-turn and guarantee that Scotland will now receive full access to furlough at 80%, at any point required.

The SNP Westminster Leader said the Tory government has “deliberately hindered” Scotland’s response to the coronavirus crisis, by withholding support and blocking the devolution of financial powers, and said “the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

It comes as the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) joined calls for a Tory U-turn, warning:

“We are deeply concerned at reports that the UK Government continues to oppose making available full furlough at 80% for Scotland at any point that it is needed. If true it would mark a new low point in the Government’s treatment of Scottish workers and public health in Scotland.”

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:

“The Tory government’s decision to deny Scotland access to full furlough outside of English lockdown periods is outrageous – and demonstrates that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK.

“The SNP has been calling for a furlough extension, and the devolution of financial powers, for more than six months – but the Tories have refused to listen and failed to act.

“When Scotland needed furlough support, Westminster said no. It is a democratic disgrace that Westminster only acted when England needed support – leaving Scotland high and dry.

“There must now be an immediate U-turn, with a guarantee that Scotland will have full access to furlough at 80%, at any point it is required – as determined by the Scottish Government.

“For many it is already far too late. As a result of Tory cuts, thousands have already lost their jobs unnecessarily, many good businesses have gone under, and millions have been excluded. We now face a Tory unemployment crisis – and the blame lies firmly with Boris Johnson.

“By withholding financial support and blocking the devolution of powers, the Tory government has deliberately hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis and damaged our economy.

“Yet again, Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

Geroge Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, who is “tired of seeing Paisley people suffer unnecessarily at the hands of the Tories”, was equally disgusted by the recent turn of events and said:

“First and foremost, I think it is abysmal to politicise or play favourites during a global pandemic when the main aim of the Government should be saving lives, protecting the NHS, and making sure people’s livelihoods are saved and there for them when we return to some semblance of normality.

“But it would seem that Boris Johnson and his cronies didn’t get that memo and are quite happy to only act when the South of England needs support.

“As Mr Blackford rightly said, the SNP has been calling for a furlough extension for months now – but like many things, these calls have fallen on deaf and uncaring ears.

“It is frankly a disgrace that no clarity or reassurance has been given to the Scottish people that the furlough scheme will be extended to us if we need it and personally I’m sick of seeing my constituents suffer due to the negligence and indifference of the UK Government.

“I can only hope Westminster U-turns on this and doesn’t leave Scottish jobs – and people – in the firing line, but to anyone still on the fence about Scottish Independence; I urge that you take a long and hard look at how we’ve been treated during this pandemic.

“We deserve better.”