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Covid-19

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:00 am on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 11:00 am, 5th May 2020

The Finance Minister wrote to me and he suggested exploring the furloughing of Translink staff. On the back of that suggestion, the feasibility of that is being explored by Translink. My view is very clear and I have made it known to Executive colleagues. Taking the decision to furlough public-sector staff is a significant issue, it is cross-cutting, and we should approach it as an Executive.

There are a number of practical difficulties with furloughing Translink staff. The furloughing scheme ends at the end of June. We are just a number of weeks out from that. I also have to grapple with the challenge of making sure that we have an essential public transport service for our key workers and that when we provide that we can ensure that social distancing can be maintained, so we require additional fleet to carry a much-limited number of passengers. I also need to make sure that there is a deep clean, so a number of staff are required to ensure that we can keep that transport network going and that we can do so safely. All that has to be taken in the round with the fact that, when we are encouraging people to come back to work and to do so safely, we should encourage them to have the confidence to be on our public transport network, and that will require that we have our public transport network in a good place and our employees ready to do all that work. I want to consider all these things in the round.