‘Stay off Baobab third, fourth floor’

General secretary of Unity Workers’ Union, Caswell Franklyn, has advised his members working at the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology to stay away from the third and fourth floors of the Baobab Tower in Warrens, St Michael, until environmental issues there are fixed.

He told the Weekend Nation yesterday the union was requesting that an air quality test be conducted on the floors and the results shared with the workers, many of whom have been complaining about respiratory ailments.

Sources revealed that workers were informed at a staff meeting on Wednesday morning that they would be required to work remotely two days per week and spend three days at the office.

It is understood the employees were not pleased with this and were adamant that they be removed from the environment until the matter is rectified.

Franklyn said he received complaints from members of staff enduring the environmental issues for a prolonged period.

“I want them to fix it and do further testing to make sure that the problems were fixed. We want to see the result of this air quality test before the workers return to the environment.

“I understand that an air quality test was done last year and the workers do not know the results of that test. So we want them to do an air quality test now and we want to see the results of that test.

“The staff have been getting sick and complaining about the smell in the office and all kinds of things. So I advised my members not to go back into that building until the issues have been fixed, they test the air quality and then the results of that test are shared with the staff,” he said.

Yesterday, the ministry advised the public in a release that “we have temporarily moved to a remote working operation, as our offices located on the third and fourth floors of Baobab Tower . . . are closed until further notice due to environmental concerns. The work of the ministry continues and any correspondence may be sent either directly to the responsible officer or to mist.notifications@barbados.gov.bb.”

Franklyn insisted that workers had the right under the Safety and Health at Work Act to refuse to work in dangerous conditions.

“Working in those conditions is dangerous. Section 104 of the Safety and Health at Work Act speaks to the fact that workers should be working in safe conditions. Workers deserve to be working in safe conditions,” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Marva Howell were unsuccessful. (AH)

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