Drivers employed at the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation are concerned that COVID-19 precautions are not being enforced at their workplace putting them at greater risk of contracting the virus.
The workers’ shop Stewart/grievance secretary of the National Union of Government & Federated Workers (NUGFW) Keshrie Kissoon yesterday called on Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein to make clear who are essential and non-essential workers and how they are required to work.
“On a daily basis they have more than 30 workers here, including drivers, garage workers, and other workers. Sometimes, many of them just not doing anything and gathered here. We are not saying we don’t want to work but give us staggering hours as is being done with drivers at the other corporations, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.”
A letter signed by 14 workers were sent to Permanent Secretary Desdra Bascombe at the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry on March 25 detailing their concerns and asking for them to be addressed.
However, they are yet to receive a response. The drivers complained that they were told that the staggering hours/shift system does not apply to them and they were required to work from 7 am to 4 pm.
“This instruction was contrary to the initiatives implemented to combat the spread of the virus and have since put the health and safety of drivers at risk,” the letter stated.
The drivers requested Bascombe’s assistance in ensuring that they are treated fairly and their well being and safety, as well as their families, be taken into consideration by ensuring that they are included in the precautionary measures to reduce the risk of people contracting and spreading the virus.
They also requested that vehicles and other equipment on the compound be sanitised and disinfected on a daily basis. They complained that no handwashing and sanitization stations have been enforced at the Transport/Workshop Division.
When contacted chairman of the corporation Raymond Cozier said he had a meeting earlier CEO Ashmeed Mohammed about this issue.
He noted that the claims made by the drivers were conflicting with the information he got from Mohammed.
Cozier said he would visit the compound to get a first-hand view of the situation and make further inquires into the matter in an attempt to have the matter resolved.
When contacted Rural Development Minister Kazim Hosein said the CEOs of the corporations are to determine who are the essential workers but they are to exercise due diligence and care when making those decisions.
Mohammed told Guardian Media he would issue a statement on the matter today.