Staff at the education ministry’s head office have expressed concern about the working conditions at the building on St Vincent Street.
In a Facebook post on the Public Services Association’s page, it was alleged that the workers interacting with the public were working without proper protection and there was a faulty air-conditioning unit in Tower B causing issues with air quality and mould. Issues around flexitime and casual and sick leave were also raised.
Newsday visited the ministry on Thursday and was initially told the administration building was closed to the public for the day as a company was doing glass work. It was also observed that staff were entering and leaving the building during the lunch hour, while some members of the public were allowed to enter after washing their hands and being temperature scanned. People outside the building were being helped by a worker who directed them where to go to complete their business.
However, a ministry of education worker denied the building had been closed. He said while concerns had been raised by staff who had to interact with the public, the ministry had implemented several measures with respect to covid19. They said these included providing hand-washing facilities, temperature scans before entering, a box for documents to be dropped off, encouraging the use of ICT platforms, and having members of the public attended to on the first floor rather than having them enter the building further, among others. He said he could not address the issues around flexitime, casual and sick leave.
PSA first vice-president Ian Murray said he was aware of the concerns raised by staff and intends to investigate them next week.
“On the ground floor where there were people interacting directly with the public, they were supposed to put up the plexiglass safety guards, and even though we’re back out to work for almost two months, for some reason the ministry has not installed those safeguards as yet. My honest opinion is the length of time the workers are back out to work, the ministry has no excuse for not having those safeguards in place, especially where they’re dealing directly with the public.”
Murray said the PSA had requested a meeting with the PS of the education ministry to discuss the issues raised but had not yet got a response.