We’re in negotiations with the civil service to secure a national agreement on what should happen if there’s a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a workplace.
Obviously that individual worker needs to immediately go home, with full pay, and our demand is that their immediate team is also sent home on full pay. We’re further demanding that their immediate work space, if it can be isolated, be shut down and deep cleaned, and if it can’t, that the entire building be closed.
The national negotiations were impelled by struggles our members faced at workplace level, for example at Trinity Bridge House, a HMRC workplace in Salford mentioned in previous columns. After a case of the virus was confirmed there, significant union pressure was required before management agreed to close the building.
We hope that securing a national agreement will put a clear protocol in place for bosses to follow, but it will still require policing by union organisation in the workplace. We’re clear that, if we can’t reach an agreement on this issue, we will be in dispute.
We are also determined that any agreements we reach cover outsourced and agency workers as well as permanent, directly-employed staff.
PCS will not allow outsourced workers, who often do some of the most difficult and arduous jobs putting them on the frontline of confronting the virus, such as cleaning, to be treated as second class citizens.
• John Moloney is Assistant General Secretary of PCS, writing here in a personal capacity