Some businesses around the country have been doing their part to ensure their employees who are required to work during this partial shut down of the country are well equipped to deal with the challenges.
Responding to queries from Guardian Media yesterday, Massy Stores told this newspaper that in this time of “unprecedented change and unpredictable circumstances,” Massy Stores Trinidad remains committed to ensuring the safety of its employees its customers.
Massy Stores explained it is working closely with employees and the respective unions to ensure all employees are cared for and considered at all levels while looking after the needs of customers.
The company said to protect both employees and staff it had implemented a number of initiatives, including shortened hours of operation to enable employees to return to their families safely. Those hours are Monday to Saturday from 7 am – 6 pm and Sunday from 7 am until 4 pm.
In addition the company said it has an ongoing recruitment drive in an effort to provide additional workers to assist current employees and ensure that they can perform their duties during assigned shifts and allow them to take entitled leave.
Massy explained that employees in the stores are also being allowed more frequent breaks so that they can wash their hands more frequently.
The company installed 38 sinks across the store network, to make it easier for customers and employees to wash their hands upon entering and exiting the store.
In an effort to reduce the time spent in store, Massy has also introduced an option for customers to WhatsApp their prescription to 467-1167 to have it filled by the pharmacies. There are eight pharmacies operating across the chain —Westmoorings, St Ann’s, Moka, St Augustine, Trincity, Mandalay (Arima), Marabella and Gulf View locations.
Old Agro Mac
Liaquat Ali, CEO, Trinidad Parboil/Old Mac Agro-based in Couva told Guardian Media that they have taken several steps to protect their employees during these difficult times.
The company produces rice, oil, sardines and other basic foodstuff which is supplied to supermarkets around the country.
Ali said they have set up sinks and as workers enter the compound they are required to wash their hands. They have also installed hand sanitisers for each department of the factory for the benefit of workers.
Ali assured the companies intend to protect their employees’ job security despite the challenges facing the country.
In addition he said they have introduced a shift system. “We do not want to have everyone one place, at one time. So have a shift system, where different employees come in on different days. All the marketing, and merchandisers we stopped them coming into the factory. Only the essentials we are using now.”
Ballyram Maharaj, CEO, ADM Distributors, told Guardian Media that his company has already set up a COVID-19 management team in the company which has already met at least three times to come up with solutions on how to protect their employees from the COVID-19 threat.
He said they set up sinks and tents on the outside of their building in Arima for employees and customers to use. They have also supplied hand sanitisers, gloves and face masks for employees.
Maharaj said if they detect employees who may have symptoms and are not well, they are immediately sent home with pay.
“We were one of the first companies in T&T to write to the Ministry of Trade telling them what we want to do for our employees and crowd control. We do not want one single case in our company. We are an example for other businesses in the country.”
Daphne Bartlett, CEO, D Bartlett Drugs Ltd in San Fernando and Bartlett Pharmaceuticals Factory, told Guardian Media she is doing everything to ensure that her employees are protected as they fall under the essential workers’ category.
Hand sanitisers are one of the items that her factory produces.
“My employees are well taken care off. In the retail outlet, the employees have to interface with the public. We are doing social distancing, three feet apart. The staff is provided with gloves, face masks, and hand sanitisers. We have in stock Lysol which I had ordered since January when I saw what is happening in China.”
In addition she said her businesses are closing at 2 pm instead of the normal working hours of 5pm.
Simon Hamlet, supervisor, Payless Supermarket in Port-of-Spain, told the Guardian that they are providing their employees with gloves and the other basics that the Ministry of Health has recommended that the supermarkets use.
“Our employees wear gloves but you know customers don’t want our workers to wear gloves because they say that when cashiers touch dirty money, they then have to touch the goods.”
In addition he said employees are provided with bleach to wipe down the counters, baskets and trolleys, and they also provide their employees with hand sanitisers.
Hamlet said the supermarket now has reduced opening hours and close at 6pm to give their employees enough time to get home safely.