Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries (MALF), Acting Permanent Secretary (PS), Susan Shurland, has written to the Public Services Association (PSA) stating that MALF has been committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, following the PS’s statement, employees, through several forms of communication, engaged in bashing the PS’s statement, calling it false and untrue.
Via email, Ms. Shurland said that the Ministry has been in compliance with all Covid-19 protocols and it was employees who continued to pose threats, as they were not sufficiently washing and sanitizing their hands, wearing their masks properly and social distancing. She stated that mitigating the spread of Covid-19 had to be a collaborative effort between employees and management, which was not happening.
This email followed several reports the PSA made via its social media pages, where Industrial Relations Officer (IRO), Aaron Singh, called on the PS to ensure the safety of their workers. IRO Singh acted on behalf of his membership subsequent to many grievances from workers employed at MALF.
One employee wrote stating, “The report that was made regarding the irresponsible practices by employees is a load of lies. This attempt to throw us under the bus will not work. The employees buy their own stuff to clean their desk and sanitize their hands, the Ministry does not provide. We can only social distance accordingly to the layout of the office space and we are packed in like sardines on a normal basis. The audacity for them to blame employees! They were the ones calling us out to work and if we didn’t come out, we had to apply for the day. I am Covid positive; I put my entire family at risk. This is my health they playing with and they studying to pass blame. Its disappointing.”
IRO Singh has indicated that the Ministry’s head office has had to shut down on four occasions, as a result of positive Covid-19 cases. To date, it has been reported that the Ministry has had 14 employees who tested positive for the virus.