KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR SC MP, Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC)

The Opposition has criticised the Government stating that the Administration is “making announcements with no structure in place to deliver on these in a timely fashion.”
In a press release issued today, the Opposition says that thirty-nine days after Government announced the use of pandemic leave it is yet to be finalised.

The following is the full press release from the Opposition:

The Covid-19 crisis has been the cause of much anxiety and uncertainty for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. The lockdown measures announced by the Government left a lot of questions, particularly those in the public sector who had no work from home arrangement. On March 15th the Minister of Labour, Jennifer Baptiste Primus hosted a press conference presumably to clarify the issue of “pandemic leave” a measure announced by her Administration.
The country is now being told, thirty- nine days later, this leave is yet to be finalised. The Government policy appears to be rapid announcements and slow delivery.
When the Government announced measures that they intended to put in place we were told “working parents who have no support system to care for their children would be able to access pandemic leave during the closure of schools.”
Schools are set to remain closed until September and we still have no clarification on how working parents are expected to access this “pandemic leave”.
The “pandemic leave” was also expected to cover people who have fallen ill and exhausted their sick leave and extended sick leave, as well as those workers who are not eligible for sick leave. These are all extremely vulnerable groups who are waiting anxiously for the Government to provide details.
With the Minister of Health asserting that any reopening would “slingshot us back to the stone ages” and a refusal to provide the nation with comprehensive local data to justify Government actions- is it too much for us to expect that the Government would at least deliver on their announcements? The evidence suggests that this Administration is making announcements with no structure in place to deliver on these in a timely fashion.
Similarly, they announced a plan to increase testing and despite this announcement we continue to have remarkably low testing numbers.
Many hard-working citizens are in a constant state of limbo during this crisis, and the Government is not helping with their policy of announcing things and not delivering.
Many are unsure of their status of employment and many are at home without any form of income and no sign of relief from the Government. Like everything else promised by this Government, increased testing, grants, hampers and masks, the pandemic leave has been ignored after being announced.
With the recent decline in WTI oil prices and the uncertainty surrounding many jobs today, the least the Government can do is to produce a working document outlining the pandemic leave and protecting workers during this time.
We ask again, when can employees and the wider public expect the final policy relating to pandemic leave and why has it not been released after being announced over 30 days ago?
The UNC again calls for more attention to be placed on the workers as with the steady decline of the energy sector, our employees and human resource must be safeguarded to prevent us from an all-out economic collapse.