IMAGINE being a nurse holding the still-warm hand of a vulnerable patient as they pass away in the middle of the night because no one else is around. Would you cry?

When you dress the red-raw wounds and see the child, the worker or the frightened pensioner wincing with pain, how would you find the words to comfort them?

After your shift ends and you keep going because no one else is there to take over, would you get scared of making a potentially catastrophic mistake because you are so dog-tired? Or has it happened so often that it’s become almost automatic?

Watching the people on television clap the NHS on their doorsteps, as the face masks dug into the dry skin on your face, did it fill you with pride or were you too scared to take it in? Today, looking back, does it ring hollow or does it provide an echo of solace?

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Imagine being a firefighter. Can you contemplate what it must be like to face down a raging wall of flames as you walk towards someone trapped in their house?

That’s right, towards them, with your vision impaired by the thick shroud of smoke all around. The heat is intense, the weight of your mask and equipment and clothing are making it difficult to try and move. You trust in your firefighter colleagues as they do in you. The inferno is devouring almost everything in its path.

You are not sure what lies ahead. But you press on in spite of nature’s instinct telling your body to take flight. Because you are trained, you are a professional. Someone needs you to stand tall. To save them or what counts as their world.

Do you tire, do you ache? Are you lucky enough to have decontamination facilities, or do you sit and wonder what toll tonight’s call might be having on your future?

On the darkest of days, do you stare at the empty seat? How do you possibly fill the void or look their family in the eye when one of your own doesn’t make it home?

What goes through your mind when you hurtle through the busy streets at breakneck speed? Are the flashing blue lights and siren above the only hope of parting the reluctant sea of vehicles in front of you as vital seconds tick away?

How do you prepare for the scenes that await? A medical emergency, terrified patients, emotional relatives, abusive comments, violent attacks, bloody scenes, life slipping away, getting there too late to help.

Do you still feel proud of your skills as a paramedic, or devalued and frustrated, only a sense of duty seeing you through? When the drunk wobbles at the platform edge, or shouts and swears and throws a punch on the train carriage, is it what you signed up for?

As irate passengers glower, tut and complain at the unexpected delay which is also keeping you late from going home to see your family after a draining shift, where do you find the energy to smile and issue their ticket?

When debris falls from the trees, or rains increase the risks of landslides, how do you find it within you to hold your nerve, knowing that, driving at 90mph, the lives of several hundred others are in your hands? In the depot as you pick up the litter, clean away the vomit, unclog the toilets, wash away the spilt drinks and bag the discarded foods and tickets, do you ever wonder when people forgot to look after their own environments?

Most of us will never know how we would feel in their shoes, or how we would answer these questions. But all of us will know someone who does, or we will have been touched by their service at some time.

These workers have earned our respect. They are right on the frontline of providing the vital services that we all rely on.

They deserve our thanks, not the scapegoating and demonisation that has come from the scandal-rife and cruel Tories that are only concerned with their wealthy friends and donors.

Particularly in these times of political turmoil, they have more than earned their right to strike. And the Tory attempts to undermine industrial action are an attack on every single one of them.

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The history of our trade unions is a history of proud resistance. They have played a vital role in securing the terms, conditions and rights that we all benefit from.

They have stood up to corrupt bosses and authoritarian governments and struggled through the bleakest adversity. They have been united by the timeless belief that things can be so much better than they are and that everyone deserves the dignity afforded by a good wage and conditions.

That is why we, as Scottish Green MSPs, have stood with them on the picket lines, and why we will always do so. It is why we refused to take part in parliamentary business and supported the Trade Union Congress day of action on Wednesday.

We know where we stand – and it’s always with the workers.