Daily paid workers of the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) have downed tools as they protest the lack of protective equipment and gear against COVID-19.
Bearing placards and singing union songs, the workers called on management to urgently address their health and safety concerns at the South-Western Ward, at the corner of Sutton and Jamadar Street, San Fernando.
Contractors and General Workers Trade Union shop-steward, Ian Charles, complained that proper equipment and gears are in place for employees at departments in the main administration building, yet daily paid workers are being neglected.
Charles told Guardian Media during the first lockdown, a face basin was installed along with a liquid soap dispenser, but the liquid soap has not been replenished and the water in the tap runs “like sweet oil”. He also complained that the filter to the water tank has not been replaced or serviced in five years. He said workers usually get face masks once a year, which is unacceptable.
San Fernando City Corporation daily paid workers protest the lack of protective equipment and gear, on Tuesday 4 January 2022. (Image: RISHI RAGOONATH)
Complaining that daily paid workers are in the “belly of the beast”, Charles said they are fed up and are demanding that management safeguard their health and well-being.
“Workers of this ward and daily paid workers of the San Fernando City corporation have been deemed essential. Workers are coming out here and they have families and coming out here on a daily basis, religiously, and performing their duties, and simple basic amenities management fails to provide,” Charles stated.
However, he complained that at the main office temperature devices, sanitisers and glass screens are all in place to protect workers.
“We are fed up. We went throughout the channels. I personally went on behalf of the ward and asked management of all the different departments—down to the CEO—and [only] a set of promises. Mr Regrello came here and was wondering how we’re performing our duties under these conditions,” Charles said.
The workers’ representative also complained that workers are still being paid 2013 salaries.
The workers who perform sanitation, street maintenance and construction work are now threatening not to return to work until their issues are addressed.