The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has warned the government it will consider strike action if offices are not made Covid-secure before workers are forced to return to them.
Responding to government plans to get 80% of civil servants back at their desks by the end of September, the union set out five tests of Covid-security that employers must meet.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If the government or any employer starts forcing people back to work and we believe that it is not safe to do so we will firstly consider our legal options, secondly give individual legal advice, and thirdly consider whether a collective response is required.
“As a last resort, if you have no other option and people’s health and safety is at risk, of course we would be prepared to consider industrial action.”
The union, which does not believe it is currently safe to return to work, asked the government to provide assurance that staff safety remains of “paramount concern”. It demanded meetings with union negotiatiors at each workplace to ensure that offices are covid-secure before workers begin to use them.
PCS reported that new pressures are being applied to government departments to open back up.
“As we understand it, departments which have not staffed offices up to the so-called Covid safe limits must now seek to do so,” a union statement explained.
“Department have been set a target of 80% of staff in England to attend their usual workplace each week by the end of September.”
“We understand the Prime Minister has asked to see departmental return to the workplace figures on a weekly basis.”