THE PRESIDENT of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke is calling on the Prime Minister to do the same as China, and lock the country down, after the announcement of this country’s first confirmed case of covid19.
The PSA’s buildings will be closed, at least until March 31. Its staff have been asked to work from home and will be paid.
“I have done it. I now ask the prime minister to do it,” Duke said, in an address streamed live on social media on Friday, from the PSA’s head office, Port of Spain.
“When this became a serious threat, China locked down Wuhan province. Eleven million people they locked down and they brought it under control to an extent,” Duke said.
“As the president responsible for the staff and the lives of my members, we are closing our doors today. If we need a file, we will come to the office, get it and go back home.
“But the PSA has closed its doors. We take in front.”
A demonstration by public-sector workers was scheduled for Monday but has been cancelled, along with all public gatherings associated with the PSA.
Instead, Duke wants all public workers to give government “a day off” and stay at home, on Monday.
He said the PSA building will be secured by guards as it is an isolation centre.
All calls and messages which normally go through the PSA’s landlines will be sent to a manager and forwarded to the relevant worker. A number to call will be left at the entrances.
Elsewhere, Duke said he has received reports that there is no toilet paper at some government offices and a lack of hand sanitizer at health centres, citing the Carenage Health Centre as one example.
“There must be soap, there must be water, there must be paper towels, or the blower to dry your hands,” Duke said. “There are many offices without those things. We want drinking water.
“Send a message to the government on Monday.The healthcare workers, give the government a message. Let them put their house in order.”
Duke said the hospital at Caura, which has isolated the person who is the first confirmed covid19 case in the country, “is not ready to be called a quarantine place.”
“People run the risk of getting more infected in the hospital than outside the hospital,” he said, adding that he is calling for a meeting with the Ministry of Health “within 24 hours.”
“If we don’t meet, then crapaud smoke yuh pipe,” Duke said. “While you all control money, we, the PSA, control labour.”
He also called for the immediate closure of schools.
“I want to ask the University of the West Indies and the Minister of Education to please have a heart. Have a bloody heart, man. Shut down the schools and them until you have this thing under control. Do not endanger people children.”