THE St. Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) says it is not pleased with what appears to be a call to end all alternative working arrangements within the public service.
“The St. Lucia Civil Service Association has been made aware that some managers in the Public Service have instructed their members of staff to end all of the alternative working arrangements including rotation and remote work and return to normal operations. After attempting to engage with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Public Service, who has overall responsibility for such matters, there appears to be no change to sudden change of policy,” wrote Claude Paul, General Secretary of the trade union in a missive to CSA members.
“We are obviously very concerned that public sector managers would take such an irresponsible position in the face of the extension of the State of Emergency (SOE), the recent trend of a rise in new COVID-19 cases and the latest pronouncements of the CMO concerning the possibility of a fourth wave of the pandemic,” Paul added.
He reminded members and the relevant heads of departments of Section 263 of the Labour Act which makes provisions for employees to take action to protect their health and safety.
This section states as follows:
“An employee may refuse to work or do particular work where the employee has reason to believe that
(a) any equipment, machine, device, substance or article the employee is to use or operate presents an imminent and serious danger to the life or health of himself or herself or another worker; or
(b) the physical condition of the workplace or the part in which the employee works or is to work presents an imminent and serious danger to his or her life, safety or health; until such time as the employee believes that measures have been undertaken by the employer to address the employees concerns”.
“In the absence of proper arrangements for physical distancing, and other protocols our members face the risk of infection particularly as there are new and more infectious variants within close proximity.
“The CSA therefore advises its members to take the necessary action to avoid situations which they deem to be potentially harmful to their wellbeing. We encourage the employer and their representatives to apply reasonable measures to ensure a safe and healthy working environment and to follow the directives given in a manner which will safeguard the rights of workers. The CSA strongly believes that all work environments must remain safe and free of potential hazards to the health and general wellbeing of everyone concerned,” Paul noted.