Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps is under pressure to explain failures at the DVLA after an outbreak of 500 cases of Covid-19.
Distressing information is coming to light, of DVLA workers in offices in Swansea being told to turn off the Covid track and tracing app, “so that their phones do not ping”. Symptomatic workers have been encouraged to continue to come to the offices, and people who are vulnerable have been refused requests to work from home. Sick leave amounting to more than 10 days has triggered a warning. There are fears that Swansea itself has seen an increase in infections, due to DVLA workers using several buses for their daily commute.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has been called on to intervene by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents DVLA staff. It’s been reported that over 500 cases have been confirmed at the DVLA’s premises in Swansea since the outbreak started in September 2019. The outbreak began just after Grant Shapps encouraged workers to return to offices, saying, “It is now safe to go back to work”.
From the very beginning of the pandemic, the issue has been to keep the virus out of the workplace in the first place, by identifying who has it as soon as possible. The DVLA’s approach has been disastrous on many levels, with staff now living in fear – of speaking out, and of contracting the virus, and even death. This must surely be fully investigated, and appropriate enforcement action taken.
Urgently, the DVLA’s Covid strategy needs an effective policy put in place to control the risk at source, to safeguard their people and their families.