NIPSA, Northern Ireland’s leading public service union, has today condemned the Department for Communities for not put necessary social distancing measures in place to protect its staff despite commitments given by Government and Ministers.

NIPSA has been engaging with senior management in the Department for Communities on Covid 19 plans over the last few weeks with a number of measures being put in place. However, despite the announcements from the Prime Minister, the First Minister and Deputy First Ministers and the Minister for Communities on staying at home and social distancing both inside and outside the workplace, some managers have not got the message and are placing staff and the wider community at risk by not enforcing social distancing this some of their offices.

Dooley Harte, NIPSA Official stated:

“We have been demanding that all managers in the department for Communities must enforce social distancing measures in all their offices. However, despite commitment given to NIPSA today by senior management that safe distancing was being implemented across all sites, I received photographs to the contrary. In fact, these photos that show staff working in very close proximity and certainly not the required 2 metres. This is putting our members and their families at risk and is playing games with people’s lives.”

“What is so concerning,” Mr Harte continued, “is that a government department is not following the government’s advice on social distancing. The Communities NI Twitter account is putting up videos about keep your distance and sharing the hashtag Stay at Home while shoehorning our members into unacceptable accommodation, putting them at serious risk and then telling us that everything is fine. It’s not fine and we call on the Minister for Communities to intervene to resolve the problem of social distancing within her own department.”