EBC Trinidad

Employees of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) are disgusted and fuming over what they deem a “total disregard” for the Stay-At-Home order issued by the Government in a bid to flatten the curve against the COVID-19 pandemic as they all have been asked to report to work from today.

Speaking with the Guardian Media on Friday under strict anonymity for fear of victimisation, an employee said they were contacted by their respective heads of departments who informed them that they must report to duty. According to the employee, “no explanation was given.”

“We are concerned because here it is we were said to be non-essentials and ordered to stay at home but now suddenly we are being told to come out to work. The prime minister extended the stay at home…so why go against the order, which is for our lives and health and also, our families’ lives as well because many of us have children and have our elderly parents in our homes and sick ones too, “ the employee said.

“We have to now go out there and use public transportation to get to and from the office. No one studying us outside there? They are putting us at risk. It is frustrating and just upsetting. The EBC offered us nothing and nothing has been put in place for us to get to work, “ the employee added.

The employee said many colleagues shared the same concerns and added that some are “very angry.”

When contacted for comment, the EBC’s corporate communications manager, Bobbi Rogers said the staff at the Registration Area Offices and Registration Area Sub-Offices of the EBC have been contacted to return to work but “on a rostered basis, in keeping with Government’s Covid-19 guidelines.”

“In accordance with The Public Health [2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (NO. 4) Regulations, 2020, sub-regulation 2 (t), the EBC as a Department of the Public Service was deemed essential. The decision by the Commission to close all Registration Area Offices and sub-offices to the public was taken as a mitigation measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” she added.

Rogers said that at all times during the Government imposed Stay-At-Home order, the Administration of the EBC continued to work, “albeit with staff on a rostered basis and observing all Covid-19 protocols.”

The order and restrictions were implemented by the Government to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

She added that the EBC’s Registration Area Offices and sub-offices will remain closed to the public until the necessary approvals are granted to resume these duties.

“However, there is urgent administrative work in the Registration Area Offices and sub-offices that needs to be conducted as there is an election constitutionally due this year, “ Rogers said.

“On resumption of duty, the staff rostered to work on any given day in these Registration Area Offices and Sub-offices will be required to conduct only office related duties, “ she added.

Rogers, in addressing the concerns of some employees having children, elderly and other at-risk people in their homes, said it has always been the position at the EBC, as they navigate this new pandemic that their members of staff, who have concerns with respect to elderly and at-risk parents and/or children in their home that they “communicate these concerns with their supervisor and explore all potential options, including working from home if and where possible.”

“We are aware that these are unprecedented times and the EBC like many other organisations is mindful that it cannot be business as usual and will maintain all necessary protocols to safeguard its staff on the job, “ Rogers said.