RADHICA DE SILVA
Maintenance workers who clean schools and other public buildings are threatening to down tools from Monday.
The workers, led by the Transport and Industrial Workers Trade Union, say they are not being provided with proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) despite the threat of COVID-19.
During a protest outside their South Regional office in San Fernando today, TIWU’s South Branch president Candace Trotman said recently, a worker from the San Fernando West Secondary School tested positive for COVID-19, but the school was never sanitized.
“The workers walked off the compound today because they don’t have proper gloves or masks. Supervisors are bullying the workers like hogs. They want them to do the work without the proper gear. And if the workers do not come to work, supervisors are cutting their time,” she said.
She explained that letters have been written but nothing has been done.
Groundsman at the school, David Alexander Baldeo, said he was afraid to come to work because proper COVID-19 protocols were not in place.
“The other day the lady contract COVID and she is in quarantine right now. She is in the hospital and her husband is in the hospital. They never come, not one day to sanitize the school for workers to come back out. This is not right,” Baldeo said.
He added: “I know I am going to be victimized for speaking out. Under the supervision of (name called), we are suffering. They’re telling us we must stay for eight hours on the compound and the Prime Minister saying we have to work at 50 per cent. That is four hours. If we leave work early, they are cutting our time,” Baldeo added.
He called on the Ministry of Education to sanitize the school immediately, noting that the worker in question had been on the compound, during the examination period.
“We want to work but we also want proper protocols to be followed. We want proper gear, gloves, masks. Right now, they are sanitizing with Easy Clean. The WHO said use an alcohol-based, but they’re sanitizing with Clorox, bleach and water.”
He said complaints have been lodged but managers have been unsympathetic.
Meanwhile, another worker, Juliano Garcia, said some principals were making things difficult for the maintenance staff.
“The principals have their work and MTS have their work. The managers and supervisors of MTS should liaise with workers and not the principal. The principal must not get into MTS business,” Garcia said.
Guardian Media will bring you more as this story unfolds.