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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2021

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Dave Warren when he was PCS rep Swansea DVLA, taking part in a PCS National day of protest on 30 November 2012, photo R. Job

Dave Warren when he was PCS rep Swansea DVLA, taking part in a PCS National day of protest on 30 November 2012, photo R. Job   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Warren, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party

As a former worker at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), I have not been surprised by reports of hundreds of Covid cases among staff. This is a massive government complex, spread over two main sites in Swansea, employing around 5,000 people.

While many are working from home, most of those in lower grades are having to attend work. Outdated IT systems cannot be adapted for homeworking.

Attending work involves using buses in many cases. As in any large office building, everyone knows how easily even ordinary viruses like colds can spread. But Covid puts a new and deadly slant on an old problem.

Sickness punished

The overriding ethos of DVLA is to maintain output and productivity. Its attitude towards everything else, including health and safety, is coloured by this. Sick absence is punished in the same way as misconduct, with formal warnings and dismissal.

In the first lockdown, the chief executive told staff in a circular that they were key workers and should attend work. When workers then attempted to place their children in schools, they were told they were not recognised as key workers, and the schools could not accept their children.

A week or so later, HR sent out another circular explaining that they were working on a list who would be required to attend work. Eventually, some workers were allowed to stay home on full pay, but this time around these same workers are now being forced to attend work.

The safety of workers cannot be trusted to DVLA or any other government department or agency. The workers themselves should democratically decide on health and safety procedures, and what is considered 'essential work'.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the workers' union PCS, says he has intervened with government ministers regarding DVLA. But more is needed. PCS must give a lead now and take collective action to get workers out of an unsafe environment.

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In The Socialist 27 January 2021:


News

Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

Poverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Fees frozen at 9,250 a year, fight for free education

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader


Schools

Schools: 'We have to fight for everything'

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"


What we think

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party


Workplace news

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Low-paid hospital workers strike


NHS

Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Health worker cooperation in the face of the pandemic


Arab Spring

Ten years since the 'Arab Spring'


TUSC

TUSC is up and running for May elections

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently


Campaigns

Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!


International socialist news and analysis

Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime


Review

TV Review: It's a Sin

TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain


 

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Related links:

DVLA:

triangleDVLA: Workers ballot on further strike action

triangleBallot majority essential to continue DVLA strike action

triangleEscalation needed

triangleDVLA workers suspend strike for talks

trianglePCS elections: increased support for Broad Left Network

Covid:

triangleNews in brief

triangleTax fraud could be over 20 billion annually

triangleTV Review - Help: Heart-wrenching portrayal of Covid care home crisis

triangleOn the frontline, and still fighting for the NHS

Workers:

triangleThe 'winter of discontent' - When workers could take no more

triangleBuild a mass working-class climate movement with socialist policies

triangleWorkers need a pay rise

Government:

trianglePlace Unite at the head of the anti-Tory movement

triangleSocial care funding needed now

PCS:

triangleMOJ pay deal accepted - we demand 10%

Mark Serwotka:

triangleAn exchange with Mark Serwotka about sales of the Socialist

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