President of the Public Service Association (PSA) Watson Duke is going to meet with attorneys to determine if the Prime Minister’s instruction for public service workers to return to work at full capacity today, with the COVID-19 virus still present in the population, is a “criminal act” and to explore taking the appropriate legal action against him.
Speaking during a live broadcast on his Facebook page yesterday, Duke criticised the decision as dangerous for workers.
“The protection is still placed on church people- one hour, 50 per cent (capacity). For those who going beach- don’t come close together and stay in small groups, no big groups. The river- no-no. But for the public service- pelt your whatever and get back to work, full throttle. If you know the public service, it’s a place where people are cramped for space. A lot of the places are overstaffed,” he said.
This he believed was a “violation of the fundamental rights of the workers” under the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to ensure the safety, the health of all employees while they are at work.
Because of this, he said: “There are some things I’ll do as PSA president and I’m already exploring them. One, I will seek to engage a series of lawyers as to whether the Prime Minister’s words are legal or illegal and whether we can injunct him…and perhaps put him on some type of a charge…(for) endangering the lives of people willfully is a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“My lawyers are looking at it. Before the week done we are going to file an action. Come hell or high water we going to file an action,” he said.
On Saturday, Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley reviewed the COVID-19 restrictions and among the changes was that the public service will now be out in full capacity.
Permanent Secretaries, managers and supervisors will have to ensure that “workplace distancing” is observed in addition to proper sanitisation and no congregating in groups.
“The public service would be open to provide the service that the public needs, especially at this time,” he said.