We're All In This Together
The Agency, and you as employees, are facing incredible pressure to maintain a critical Law Enforcement function with unpredictable resources as well as diminishing staff availability through either self-isolation or sickness itself. We are however fully sighted on and supportive of the Agency’s efforts to protect its staff in what really are unprecedented times.
Of course, advice is changing regularly and although comms do not always filter down quickly enough, or applied with the level of consistency you are seeking, the Agency is working hard to rectify problems and shore up advice as soon as they become aware.
PPE remains a very real problem for many of you, but I do know the Agency has been pushing hard to secure protective equipment for you, particularly those engaged in operational activity beyond the confines of your home or the office. However, we recognise that the NCA is competing with thousands of organisations and hundreds of Governments across the world to secure limited resources.
It may be the case that they are unable to quickly obtain the equipment we would expect you to be given during an infectious emergency. Whilst I will of course continue to urge the Agency to press on with its efforts to secure PPE, I would also urge you to act sensibly and safely. Where necessary, I would ask you to recognise and act in a way which is not solely reliant on your employer protecting you at this difficult time.
These incredibly difficult times are anything but normal and we all need to adapt to reduce the risks we may face – within the workplace and beyond. Just like the NHS are providing a critical function to provide medical care, you may be required to provide a critical law enforcement function which places you at greater risk than other members of the general public. We applaud you for the roles you are undertaking but recognise your responsibility to your own health and that of your families.
If you are required to attend an NCA workplace in support of a critical function, please consider the following:
- Travelling to work carries a degree of risk. Whilst maintaining social distancing wear a mask, a scarf or a bandana or anything which gives you more protection than nothing.
- Bring some cleaning products from home to ensure your desk is clean and as safe as possible to work at.
- If you sit at a desk, ensure that you are not sitting next to a colleague unnecessarily. Move where possible to place a desk between you and your colleague.
- If you use a shared desk phone, please ensure it is wiped down after each use – or consider greater reliance on your personal/mobile phone to reduce cross contamination.
- Wash your hands regularly.
If you are required to deploy operationally as well as the above, please also consider:
- Bringing your own cleaning products to work to enable you to wash your hands whilst out and about. If you don’t have hand sanitiser, cleaning your hands is still critical to reduce the spread of infection. A bottle of water and splash of cleaning product and/or shower gel really is better than nothing at all.
Recognising the joint responsibility for staff welfare, I reached out to the Agency last week to enter a joint initiative which would relieve some of the additional pressure on the NCA and both improve and increase communication. This was tested earlier this week with the NCOA sending out an NCA staff briefing on their behalf.
To that end, as the only bespoke Trade Union within the NCA the NCOA is encouraging all members, (and non-members at this critical time) to raise queries with us which we can now feed directly into the Coronavirus Gold Group. We will then communicate responses back to our members using our own communication routes.
The Agency has also accepted my offer to utilise our website where necessary to publish non-contentious workforce issues throughout the Coronavirus crisis. This will augment Agency communication channels (which still remain open to you) but will increase reach given our independent network.
I would therefore ask that if you have any COVID-19 related enquiries (or more importantly, suggestions!), that you channel them through the NCOA Regional Reps or if that is not possible, utilise the following NEC members who are in place to deal with queries for the foreseeable future:
H&S matters linked to COVID-19
General Coronavirus Related Enquiries
Member enquiries coming straight in to NCOA membership which are not COVID-19 or H&S related will be redirected out as necessary.
The NCOA are engaging both with your workplace reps and the National Executive who are involved in regular briefings behind the scenes in order to be able to answer your queries and ensure we are sighted on organisational developments as they occur. We will of course update you when we can.
The NCOA currently has clear and unhindered communication channels with the Agency at this time. Be in no doubt – ‘We’re in this together’.
Please keep safe.
Simon Boon – NCOA General Secretary