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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 February 2021

Strong union lead needed to stop DVLA Covid spread

Dave Warren, PCS rep Swansea DVLA, takes part in the PCS National day of protest on 30 November 2012, photo R. Job

Dave Warren, PCS rep Swansea DVLA, takes part in the PCS National day of protest on 30 November 2012, photo R. Job   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Warren, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party

535 Covid cases have been reported at the DVLA in Swansea, including one death. The vast bulk of the Covid-19 cases have happened more recently in the second wave as staff are made to attend work in person.

While many are working from home, most of the operational staff in the lower grades are having to attend work because management say outdated IT systems cannot be adapted for homeworking. Attending work involves using buses in many cases.

As in any large office building, everyone knows how easily even ordinary viruses like the cold can spread, but Covid puts a new and deadly slant on an old problem. There is even more risk now with the new variants of Covid-19, which spread even faster, and the lack of proper ventilation in workplaces. Call-centre work poses a real risk of spreading Covid-19 as workers are speaking all day for their jobs.

The overriding ethos of DVLA is to maintain output and productivity and their attitude towards everything else including health and safety is coloured by this.

The safety of workers cannot be entrusted to DVLA or any other government Department or Agency. PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka says he has intervened with ministers regarding DVLA, but more is needed. PCS must give a lead now and take collective action to get workers out of an unsafe environment.

Broad Left Network

The Broad Left Network is the socialist group inside PCS and our immediate concerns are the employment and workplace issues that face members, particularly health and safety at this time.

During this pandemic, we say:

The current Left Unity-led national executive committee has failed to organise members to respond collectively to achieve a national collective agreement from the employer. From the start of the outbreak, members meetings should have been called to make it clear that they have a legal right to refuse to work in an unsafe environment.

Workers have the right not to go into a work area where they face serious and imminent danger and should immediately proceed to a place of safety.

Union safety reps should assist individuals in expressing and reporting fears about the serious and imminent danger they face and why they need to invoke their rights to proceed to a place of safety and stay at home.

There are protection and legal rights under both Section 8 of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The union must throw its full weight behind members' rights to be safe, tackle DVLA management to negotiate what needs to be done to protect the whole workforce from the risk of contracting Covid-19, and take a lead in organising members to act collectively if management fails to respond.

Members working together with a lead from the top of PCS, we can keep members and the wider community safe during this pandemic.


PCS Broad Left Network election candidates - vote for the following

President: Lloyd Marion: (BEIS)

Vice-presidents: Brittle Fiona: (Scot Gov), Brown Sarah: (Met Police), Semple Dave: (DWP)

National Executive Committee:

Bartlett Dave: MOJ

Borland Rebecca: Home Office

Brittle Fiona: Scot Gov

Brown Alex: Health

Brown Sarah: Met Police

Denman Kevin Met Police

Dennis Alan DSG

Foxton Gill: DfE

Francis Sue BEIS

Guinnane Paul: DfE

Heemskerk Rachel: DWP

Lloyd Marion: BEIS

Lowry Tom: DWP

Parker Nick BEIS

Rees Dave DWP

Ritchie Rob: Met Police

Semple Dave DWP

Suter Paul DWP

Tweedale Saorsa-Amatheia DWP

Williams Katrine DWP

Worswick Craig: DWP

Young Colin DfE

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In The Socialist 3 February 2021:


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Launching a political alternative to cuts, poverty and job losses

Why I am attending the TUSC local elections online conference

South Yorks TUSC ready for electoral fight


What we think

Workers' rights and safety: Trade union mobilisation could force more Tory U-turns


News

Socialist Students open letter to Rent Strike network

Children in care: Privatisation is not working

Multimillion-pound rental firm demands thousands from homeless asylum seeker

Covid outbreak at Kent asylum detention centre: Napier is not fit for purpose

New anti-protest law: State forces want more power to crush the protests that are coming


Workplace news

Usdaw conference stripped of democracy by leadership

Usdaw Broad Left rally brings together those campaigning for a fighting union

Strong union lead needed to stop DVLA Covid spread

HMRC: We demand a pay rise without cuts to terms and conditions

Workers fight British Gas 'fire-and-rehire' plans

Vote Steve Hedley for RMT general secretary

The NEU's 'big announcement' - lessons need to be learned

Yorkshire aerospace workers strike against pay disparity

Workplace news in brief


The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto - A guide to understanding society, and how to change it


Rolls-Royce

1971: Rolls-Royce crisis - when the Tories nationalised in order to secure the interests of British capitalism


Readers' opinion

GameStop: Billionaires hurt at their own game

The Socialist Inbox


International news

Covid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic


Campaigns news

New members meeting in the South West - preparing for the battles to come

Why I rejoined the Socialist Party

Help us raise the funds to fuel the working-class fightback

Save our square: we need social housing and public services

Stop Labour council's eviction of Stratford Circus arts centre


 

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Related links:

DVLA:

triangleBallot majority essential to continue DVLA strike action

triangleEscalation needed

triangleDVLA workers suspend strike for talks

trianglePCS elections: increased support for Broad Left Network

trianglePCS members at Swansea DVLA to strike for safety

Union:

triangleOaks Park strikers call eleven days' more action

triangleMOJ pay deal accepted - we demand 10%

triangleTory cuts to UC: we need a union fightback

triangleInterview: Bakers' union to vote on Labour disaffiliation

Covid:

triangleTax fraud could be over 20 billion annually

triangleTV Review - Help: Heart-wrenching portrayal of Covid care home crisis

triangleOn the frontline, and still fighting for the NHS

DWP:

triangleDWP: Demand safe working and more jobs

triangleGovernment departments move to impose pay cuts

Workers:

triangleSocialists and the four-day week

PCS:

triangleReject the Ministry of Justice pay offer

Swansea:

triangleSwansea and West Wales Socialist Party: Instability continues in the Middle East

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