File picture, Workmen from T&TEC

Amidst speculation that a T&TEC worker had tested positive for COVID-19, president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget confirmed on Wednesday that 35 workers were under quarantine.

Speaking at a press conference held at the OWTU’s Paramount Headquarters in San Fernando, Roget said T&TEC’s management has not been taking proper measures to deal with COVID- 19.

“As we speak, the union has confirmed reports that there are some 35 workers who have been quarantined. All of them are workers, three at Arima, seven in Tobago, 20 in Port of Spain and five in San Fernando,” he said.

Roget said this was in complete contravention to internal information given to workers by T&TEC’s management.

The union boss said it appeared that T&TEC’s management was not following the government’s lead in safeguarding the population from COVID-19 by exposing the truth.

Roget complained that many workers still did not have the proper personnel protective gear to complete their duties.

” T&T is not normal as it was yesterday and as the situation develops and changes minute by minute, the type of collaboration that is required to treat with this pandemic has to be one that is unprecedented,” Roget said.

He added that all employers, trade unions and government agencies must collaborate to ensure that COVID-19 is properly handled.

He noted that even though the Minister of Labour spoke about the right of workers to get pandemic leave, many workers in T&TEC were being denied this opportunity.

“We are experiencing great difficulties in getting pandemic leave. Some workers are being told they have to exhaust the normal leave and they are not being paid for accessing that pandemic leave,” he said.

“We have written to the Chairman of T&TEC as well as verbally and we are requesting a meeting. We are yet to have a response,” Roget added.

However, T&TEC in response denied that any worker had tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Commission has long-established protocols for treating with communicable diseases, which were activated prior to the announcement of the country’s first case. In keeping with established protocols, an employee who may have been exposed was asked by medical officials to self-isolate while undergoing testing. Out of an abundance of caution, the Commission asked other persons who were secondary contacts to stay away from work in the interim,” T&TEC said.

The Commission added, ” As with other members of the public who are being reviewed by the health authorities, further action will be taken once results are provided.”

The Commission’ added established protocols have also been escalated and, effective Monday, service centres remain open for bill payments only, thereby reducing the physical contact among customers to customers and customers to staff, in keeping with social distancing protocols.