Courts, jobcentres and DVLA Swansea should be closed temporarily and immediately because of the rapidly rising Covid infection rates, urges PCS, as the Cabinet Office strengthens its work from home message.
The Covid situation is rapidly worsening across the UK, with a record number of infections and the emergence of a much more infectious strain of the virus. This has led to all governments in the UK and the Cabinet Office to urge people to work from home.
Following PCS pressure the Cabinet Office has strengthened its messaging to staff and contractors to instruct them to work from home unless they are providing essential services and it is not possible for that work to be done from home. Despite this some employers continue to insist that our members go into workplaces, notably DVLA, jobcentres and courts.
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Despite the first lockdown in England starting in March last year, when the “stay at home” message was first used, many members are still reporting that they don’t have the necessary kit to work from home. And with DWP insisting all jobcentres remain open and management reluctant to grant special leave for those without kit, there are still too many staff in workplaces who don't need to be there.
Management nationally seems too slow to react to what is a fast developing and highly worrying situation, with an increase in both positive cases and deaths. In fact in the last week we have seen worrying reports of incidents across the country. Jobcentres should be closed now.
At DVLA in Swansea we have dozens and dozens of Covid cases and yet ridiculously ministers and management still insist that the DVLA remains open. Sending thousands of people into work, putting them at risk is irresponsible. In the court service it seems that people are being put at risk more than anywhere else so we’re calling for all courts to close immediately and for our members to work safely at home.
If you are able to work safely from home we want you to stay working from home until vaccinations can be widespread or infections drop. If you’re being asked to go into work and you believe it is unsafe, now is the time to contact your union, through your rep or our coronavirus contact centre and we will take up your case.
But if we cannot make any progress we will not hesitate to continue to support our members and reps to take whatever action is necessary to keep people safe.
Nobody should be asked to go into work if it is unsafe or there is no need for them to be there. So contact PCS if you have concerns. We hope you can keep safe and well in these difficult times.