As plans for the introduction of coronavirus testing in certain departments are proposed by the Cabinet Office, PCS has raised serious concerns about the process, including that it should not be rushed and that testing should only be undertaken by trained personnel, not civil servants.
The proposals were discussed at a meeting yesterday (19) between PCS and the Cabinet Office
PCS supports the need for a properly functioning test, track and trace system across the country, including at workplaces. We are therefore supportive in principle of the rolling out of such testing.
However, general secretary Mark Serwotka has raised our concerns about the process in a letter following the meeting. We are clear that the roll-out should not be rushed and that a sufficient number of properly trained medical personnel are available to implement the testing programme. We are also clear that workers in the departments earmarked for the testing regime should not be responsible for carrying out testing.
At the meeting we also raised the nature of the test itself and questioned its use. Importantly the issue of contractors/facilities management staff working on the government estate was also raised. Our position is that any proper testing regime should include them but we raised concerns that without full sick pay/full isolation pay then these workers will be condemned to poverty if they are sent home after testing positive. Therefore we want pay protections to be put in place for these workers.
We are seeking assurances, ahead of our next meeting on Monday (23), that no testing programme will be rolled out until the process is agreed with PCS.
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