Health workers object
Friday, November 16 2012
“We want to move, right now!” was the chant from Health Ministry workers based at Furness Building, 88-90 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain yesterday where a non-functioning air-conditioning system has caused their work areas to feel like a furnace.
A group of workers gathered on the pavement outside the building, demanding an improvement in their work conditions.
They comprised staff of the ministry’s vertical services — Health Promotion, HIV/AIDS, National Surveillance Unit, Mental Health, Nutrition and Dietetics, Public Health inspectorate, school health programme, and security.
The staff previously occupied a building on Henry Street, and moved to the new location in September. They are utilising part of the first floor, and fourth floors and the entire second floor.
Newsday was told the air-conditioning had stopped working on the second floor, for more than a month.
Fans have been installed. However, the environment is still humid because no fresh air is circulating, and staff said when the temperature rises on the outside, the atmosphere is even hotter inside.
A worker reportedly fainted due to the heat.
The security staff are housed in an area where the ceiling panels are dropping. To the rear of the room was an entrance where the air-conditioning unit system is located. Visible on the left side of the entrance is a tangled mass of wires, and a large slab of concrete which appears to have become loose.
On the fourth floor, the effect of the air-conditioning system can be felt, but in the office of a senior staff member, the area was unaffected. She has to pull down blinds to shield the sunlight.
Newsday was told that some computers on the fourth floor could not be used because outlets were not functional.
A computer printer “caught fire” on the first floor, as a result of a surge in electricity. Khan said a shift system may have to be introduced and space found to accommodate the workers at the ministry’s head office, Park Street.