National Maintenance Training and Security (MTS) workers 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 at Rushworth Street, San Fernando, yesterday, TIWU’s South Branch president Candace Trotman said recently a worker from the San Fernando West Secondary School tested positive for COVID-19 but she said the school was never sanitised.
“The workers walked off the compound today because they don’t have proper gloves or masks. Workers are being bullied like hogs, they (certain staff members) want them to do the work without the proper gear. And if the workers do not come to work, their time is cut,” 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 quarantine right now. She is in the hospital and her husband is in the hospital. They never come, not one day to sanitise 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 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 sanitise 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 sanitising with Clorox, bleach and water.”
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.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsy-Dolly launched an investigation after the workers raised concerns.
In a statement, MTS said its leadership team has taken note of the protest and was open to discussions. MTS said the worker was asked to self-isolate as a result of possible exposure to a positive person.
“That particular worker has not been on work since July 12. MTS also said the location was sanitised in line with guidelines determined by two legitimate and highly regarded sources, the CDC of the United States as well as the CMOH from the Ministry of Health.
The company also said all required PPE was provided to workers.
“While the company maintains that all vaccinations are voluntary, the company has actively encouraged all employees to get vaccinated since this is the very best protection against COVID- 19, as recommended by the WHO and all officially recognised Health Experts. the company assured that health and safety was its main priority and that it was open to holding discussions with the workers.