A short report on the outcomes from the teleconference we had with management his morning.
You will have seen the media over the last 24 hours, including press statements from NIPSA, in relation to the absolute need to social distance in work.
I have received commitments from management that all workplaces have been instructed to ensure social distancing and staff are to be sent home if accommodation cannot be found that will allow staff to be at least 2 metres part.
It is therefore essential that social distancing is enforced in all workplaces and please contact me if it is not.
Management have confirmed that they have requested that Aramark provide cleaning services in all DfC buildings between 8.00am and 5.00pm.
They are awaiting a response from Aramark to confirm they have the capacity to meet this request.
Cleaners are being asked to clean all offices twice per day with touch points - toilets, kitchens, common areas, door handles, etc - being the priority.
Some offices have a lack of cleaning materials and management have confirmed they have multiple orders for face-masks, wipes, hand sanitising liquid, gloves, blue rolls and other cleaning materials.
However, the department is in 'competition' with the Health Service for these and the Health Service will be the priority. However it is hoped that a deliver of hand sanitising liquid will be delivered later today and this will be distributed to offices as quickly as possible thereafter.
Some offices have indicated that cleaning staff are absent due to self-isolation, etc. Management confirmed that this must be raised by local managers with DfC Commercial Services Team so that solutions can be put in place asap.
I understand that we have at least one confirmed Covid-19 case in DfC and have asked for information on exactly how many and where so that we can ensure staff are protected. This will be provided shortly but again, all Covid-19 cases must be reported to the DfC Commerical Services team and we must ensure managers are doing this.
So when engaging mangers on this, please ask if the DfC Commerical Services team has been contacted.
I understand that management have drafted new Covid-19 contingency plans for Supporting People and Work & Health groups.</p>
I have requested a copy of these plans and this is awaited. Branch secretaries should also ask managers if they have any local contingency plans and LTUS must have sight of these.
UC & JSA Conditionality
I understand that decisions have been made in DWP to disapply UC and both legacy and new style JSA work preparation, work search and availability requirements and related sanctions.
I have written to management this morning to seek information on what position NI will take and await a response.
I understand that DfI Roads and Rivers Agency offices have closed to the public and Land & Property Service offices have closed for 3 weeks. I again asked why DfC offices are open to the public. This is a decision for the Minister and she is currently looking at all options available to her on this.
I understand that some offices have already informed staff that they have already closed, have plans to close soon and/or are introducing rotas to reduce the footfall in offices to allow for social distancing. It is important that LTUS continues to challenge management on their plans for service delivery. Only essential staff must be in work doing only essential work. All other staff must stay at home but may be called upon to assist with essential work.
We will continue to raise your concerns with management to seek solutions. Please continue to engage local management in the first instance. Please continue to feed information and concerns through seconded officers and myself.
I have a further meeting with management tomorrow at 12.00pm.