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Wednesday 18 March 2020

Response to the Coronavirus public health emergency

By Dave Penman

General Secretary Dave Penman outlines the FDA's response to the Coronavirus public health emergency and the steps we are taking to continue to support our members.        

Following the government’s advice on Monday to minimise social contact and unnecessary travel, the FDA took the decision to close our Centenary House head office and institute our contingency planning for delivering FDA services from home.

We recognise that in these unprecedented times the FDA, like many organisations, has multiple obligations it needs to balance. We have been preparing for this eventuality to ensure that we are able to maintain our service to members, look after the wellbeing of our staff and representatives, reduce the risk of spreading the virus and play our part in supporting the civil service at a moment of national crisis.

Our contingency planning hopefully means that we will continue to maintain the services that our members rely on:

  • individual advice and representation;
  • bargaining and influencing employers;
  • campaigning on the issues that are important to our members;
  • defending an impartial and professional civil service; and
  • supporting career development through FDA Learn and Keyskills.

The coming months will test public services like never before and we are confident that the union can play its part in supporting those who are critical to delivering those services. We have invested in technology to allow us to conduct the vast majority of meetings without the need for travel, and our main functions are already set up to operate remotely.

The next few months would normally be a busy period for the union, with our Annual Delegate Conference and a range of training and learning events for members and reps. We have unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to suspend all FDA Learn events until the end of April. We will of course keep the situation under review and will update members when decisions are made about other upcoming events. We are looking at how we can deliver learning differently given the challenges, and also want to ensure that our programme reflects the new challenges that our members will face.

We recognise that the way in which public services are delivered over the coming months is likely to change dramatically and that our members will face significant challenges at home and work. As ever, the FDA will be here to support civil servants and the vital public services that they deliver.

Dave Penman is the General Secretary of the FDA


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