Coronavirus outbreaks at DVLA a ‘scandal’

Reports suggest around 500 staff at DVLA in Swansea have contracted the virus since last March
Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images

The PCS union has called for the government to intervene after repeated coronavirus outbreaks at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka described the situation for workers at the DVLA as a “scandal” after reports from members saying they were scared to enter the workplace.

The DVLA has about 6,000 staff based in Swansea but claims to be operating at reduced capacity, following government guidance to ensure its offices are Covid-secure.

Around 500 employees have contracted coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford had repeatedly raised concerns about case numbers.

Between September and December 2020, Public Health Wales said there had been 352 cases, with 62 cases identified in its call centre at the start of December. Office-based employees were offered testing in a bid to reduce transmission.

Wellbeing minister for Wales Eluned Morgan said the issues had come up “time and again” with local representatives and that there was concern around the pressure placed on employees to turn up to work.

Health minister Vaughan Gething told Radio Cymru: “We’re concerned about anecdotal reports we’ve heard from the trade union side, individuals, that all of the requirements weren’t being followed.”

A spokesperson said the nature of some roles required employees to be in the office due to the “essential nature of the public services we provide”.

Serwotka said: “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.”

The PCS was one of the signatories on a letter last week sent to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service, which raised concerns about escalating levels of transmission on courts and tribunal buildings.

The union has called for courts, the DVLA and job centres to close.

Serwotka added: “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.”

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