Ministry staff down tools over mold infestation

Staff of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Development were of the job today, after being instructed by the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) to leave their posts.

Asserting that sick employees cannot be productive, the Acting General Secretary of the CSA, Mac Stephen Aubertin, told reporters that the workers took the action as a result of mold infestation at the workplace.

Aubertin disclosed that on Friday he received a report of an assessment that was conducted by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on floors one and three of the building housing the ministry.

He revealed that the CSA, on the basis of the report, wrote to the Permanent Secretary requesting a meeting to discuss the document.

The CSA official stated that he was not sure whether the letter had been received.

He recalled having been summoned by the ministry employees who this morning said that they had discovered scratches on the walls of their workplace.

“I called the P.S in Public Service who informed me that an expert had gone in at weekend to do remedial work,” Aubertin said.

He noted that it was explained that the scratches were an indication that the walls had been treated and would take 24 hours to repaint.

While asserting that the ministry has started work on the mold infestation, the CSA Acting General Secretary expressed the view that there was a problem of communication.

He noted that the CARPHA report had cited “massive” mold infestation in the building.

Aubertin declared that since the particular type of mold can cause illness, the ministry should have summoned its employees to update them.

“Nobody told us anything so we instructed our members who are directly exposed to remove themselves from this hazardous environment,” Aubertin observed, adding that the CSA has the authority to do so under this country’s labour laws.

He said that the CSA is seeking a meeting with CARPHA and the Ministries of Planning and Public Service to discuss the problem.

Aubertin told reporters that he expected the problem could be rectified by the end of the week.

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