A one-hour protest was held last week Thursday by workers at the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens to send a signal to government about their poor working conditions in the six storey building.
The workers were armed with placards and engaged in many chants on World Health Day to bring their plight to the public about the poor working conditions at the government complex.
The protest action involved hundreds of workers at both the Ministerial and Financial Complexes along with their bargaining body, the Public Workers Union (PWU).
Among the deplorable conditions cited by the workers were malfunctioning AC units and ill kept carpets by the cleaners.
According to PWU President, Adrian Francis, the significance of having the protest on World Health Day, is to send the message that health should encompass everything and that the conditions which workers have to endure does not speak health and safety in the workplace.
“Health and safety is one of the most important things in terms of workers and this complex. Whether it’s the Financial, the Ministerial or the Educational complex, any government building has to be safe for workers to operate within”, he said.
‘The fact is, if you look at the carpet on the floor, it appears that they have not been done for a number of years. What happens is instead of vacuuming the carpet, they are sweeping the carpets and the vents need cleaning…it has been three years since, the vents have been cleaned.
Francis also revealed that some of the floors do not have functioning AC units and workers are forced to work in such a condition.
“…What we have found within this building, is two or three floors without AC and there are persons who have contracted respiratory problems. When they come to work in the morning, they have nasal problems; some have gotten bronchitis, as a result of the poor air in the building,” Francis told THE NEW TODAY newspaper.
Another issue pointed out by Francis, is the safety of the building. He said the emergency exits at the complex building are not clearly signed.
The PWU President noted that it has been years since the union has been in dialogue with representatives of government on the issues but nothing has been done to heed the requests.
President of the Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (CIWU), George Mason who came out in solidarity with the PWU, said he witnessed the temperature system on one of the floors at the Ministerial Complex while conducting business on the morning of the protest.
“While up there, I complained about the heat, not knowing that there were workers coming down with respiratory problems. We cannot allow that to be continued, our human capital is our greatest resource”, Mason said.
“If the Ministry has a problem we need to nip it in the bud now. We would do whatever is necessary to ensure that this Ministerial Complex becomes the best place for workers, he told the protesting workers outside the building.
President Francis stated that the one-hour protest is the first in a series of actions that will be taken by the PWU on the issue.