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Swansea DVLA – Not COVID Secure?

DVLA
26 January 2021
 

Concerns for the safety of staff at the DVLA centre in Swansea have now reached a critical stage, with the Public and Commercial Services Union calling for imminent action to address these.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It is a scandal that DVLA are not doing more to reduce numbers in the workplace when COVID infections are on the rise. Our members are telling us they are scared to enter the workplace for fear of catching COVID-19. Ministers must intervene and ensure DVLA are doing their utmost to enable staff to work from home and temporarily cease non-critical services.” At the vehicle licensing agency contact centre there have been over 350 confirmed positive cases for coronavirus from August to December 2020. 


Covid Free but Cause for Concern


Currently the DVLA claim there are no active cases inside the centre, with only four employees self isolating out of a 6000 strong workforce. However, several confessions from staff have alerted the media during the time in which 500 have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. One employee wishing to remain confidential told the BBC that they believed one of the reasons for the high infection rate was due to guidelines not being maintained properly.

"There are certain elements within management who are trying to bend the rules and regulations," they said. "It has been mentioned that you don't need your track and trace [contact tracing app] on. If someone's off with COVID, the people who haven't had their app on haven't been sent home. They'll say your app hasn't pinged, you're not going home."

The worker said it was difficult for staff to adhere to the two-metre distancing rule because of the way the office was laid out and some staff had resigned.

"The atmosphere sucks, people are scared. I have heard of some people walking out," they said.

Another worker said two-metres distancing was not always being observed, however suggested that “it’s not necessarily the manager's fault, the managers are struggling too."

 

The DVLA Under Scrutiny
 

“Staff in roles that enable them to work from home are doing so and have throughout, in line with current government advice,” the DVLA statement said. 

“However, in view of the essential nature of the public services we provide, some operational staff are required to be in the office where their role means they cannot work from home.”

It has also been reported that IT systems in the DVLA facilities are too outdated for some employee roles that could in theory be done from home, to be transferred out of the building and completed remotely. The letter from the First Minister of the PCS union to the DVLA suggests that more of their staff should be working from home and that they should work on the practicalities of enabling this, to further safeguard their employees. This they request in conjunction with consideration for more consistent standards of cleaning and hygiene measures, quality of the ventilation and social distancing.

 

Picture: the DVLA logo.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 26 January 2021

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