Employee counters logistics company’s COVID-19 claim

Employee counters logistics company’s COVID-19 claim

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 30, 2020

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A worker at Kingston Logistics Centre in Kingston has countered company claims that employees with flu-like symptoms have been allowed to stay at home as required under the health ministry’s COVID-19 protocol.

On Friday, General Manager Keisha Williams Hare denied allegations that employees at the logistics company had come in contact with a COVID-19 positive customer, and reassured the public that the firm was strictly abiding by local and international safety protocols for COVID-19.

“We are ensuring that once customers come in and we check their passports and we do see where they should be home-quarantined, then they are immediately sent away,” Williams Hare said, while adding that workers who turn up sick to work are instructed to return home and transportation provided.

However, an employee at the company, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer yesterday on condition of anonymity, said she was “baffled” by Williams Hare’s assertions, insisting that not only were employees with flu-like symptoms being asked to show up for work, but there were workers with symptoms who were never sent home.

“The information that was put in the paper about what the general manager said is not true because there are people there who are sick,” the employee claimed. “There are members of staff who are sick with flu symptoms.”

The woman insisted that contrary to what the company has said publicly, there has been no implementation of stay-at-home protocol for staff who report to work with flu-like symptoms. So far, the employee said there are at least seven workers with symptoms, some of whom have made the personal decision to stay home.

She said one manager has been showing flu-like symptoms from Thursday and was still at work. “When people are sick, they don’t tell them to go home. We have to come to work,” the woman stated, adding that these employees work in the warehouse where they often come in contact with travellers to the island.

“From time to time they observe sanitation and social distancing — not all the time because of the setting. The main office is separate from the warehouse where customers come.

“I am not aware of any customer who tested positive, but you have to interact with people and customers who come there are customers who are coming from overseas who are clearing their stuff.

“They barely put anything in place to protect staff, not to a large extent. I think at one point they closed early for people to leave and get home on time because of the curfew hours, but since the new development [with the spike in cases] it’s just the normal hand-sanitising and it’s not 100 per cent effective,” she said.

“These are abnormal circumstances. I make sure to protect myself and for my own safety I keep my distance. You have to provide your own mask. I’m not sick and I have no symptoms and I have not been in contact with warehouse staff. But if I should start feeling sick, then I would have to make a decision to go home. Because I am well, and since the problem is not in the main office, I don’t see the need to stay home,” the employee said.

Over the past week, Jamaica’s COVID-19 cases have spiked, pushing the total number of positive cases to 2,011.

To date, 888 patients have recovered, and there have been 19 deaths.

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