Amid a spike here in COVID-19, the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) has expressed concern over the impact of the right to privacy on civil servants, asserting that it could inadvertently put them at risk.
CSA General Secretary, Claude Paul, expressed the concern in a letter to the Permanent Secretary in the Department of the Public Service.
Paul copied the February 8, 2021, letter to Peggy-Ann Soudatt, to the Labour Commissioner and CSA members.
“The CSA is concerned that the right to privacy may inadvertently be placing workers at risk,” Paul stated.
He noted the tendency by some mangers to keep a positive case and identity of the patient from the rest of the staff.
But the CSA official said this may be compromising the effectiveness of contact tracing.
Paul also said it delays the response by other workers to protect themselves and their families.
He noted the risk that people would stigmatise others who, unfortunately, are COVID-19 positive.
However Paul expressed the view that officials must consider the greater good of protecting the rest of the workers.
As a result, he said it calls for more urgent responses from Managers.
Paul said the CSA is aware of cases where the delay in advising staff has created tension, uncertainty and panic among staff members.
He explained that in the absence of credible information, they often speculate and rely on misinformation and rumours.
In the wide-ranging letter, Paul expressed dissatisfaction with the health and safety measures in some agencies where ‘basic requirements’ are lacking.
And the CSA wants urgent action to protect civil servants.
Paul noted that the CSA is not insensitive to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
However, he said the union is mindful that the actions or inaction on the part of Public Service Managers has the potential to endanger the health and safety of CSA members.
Paul declared that for reasons unknown to the CSA, persons in authority are acting irresponsibly under the guise of ensuring business continuity.
The CSA General Secretary said the trade union will closely monitor the situation.
And he warned that the union will not hesitate to take action as it deems appropriate to protect members and workers in general, from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.