NIPSA Trade Union Side has engaged in several meetings with Management at different levels in relation to Covid-19 and proposals for DVA staff to return to car testing from 20 July 2020. Members are fearful for their lives, the lives of their families and concerned about public safety.
Arising from Management's proposals, members have understandably raised concerns regarding their levels of fear, stress, worry and the impact on their mental health. NIPSA's advice in all such cases is that members should seek and follow advice from their GPs.
Members should also raise their concerns locally and in writing regarding the Generic Risk Assessments and question the safety protections that have been put in place. Recent risk assessments have sought to put the onus for safety of workers on local managers which is unacceptable. The onus for the safety of workers in the workplace is on the employer.
NIPSA does not accept that Full Covid-19 Risk Assessments have been carried out for each area of work. We are also of the view that the protections currently being offered to staff being told to return to testing cars is inadequate in preventing them from becoming infected by Covid-19.
NIPSA met with the Permanent Secretary outlining all of these concerns. The meeting was followed up by correspondence issued both to the Permanent Secretary and the Minister, detailing the issues, the requirements for PPE to protect staff and requesting responses to a number of questions.
The Permanent Secretary's response was not acceptable to Trade Union Side and therefore NIPSA arranged for a legal consultation through its solicitors MTB. Given the seriousness of the potential life and death issues for our members, a barrister was also engaged to give advices.
Arising from that NIPSA have now written to the Permanent Secretary, detailing the issues and again seeking to resolve the issues collaboratively and a Pre- Action Protocol Letter for Judicial Review has been included with the correspondence. The response to the correspondence (and legal advice from NIPSA's solicitors) will inform whether this course of action is appropriate.
NIPSA are still are hopeful that a collaborative approach will be possible. A further update will be provided in due course.