August 9, 2022

St. Lucia: Tense situation at Beausejour Agricultural Complex

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By Kingsley Emmanuel From St Lucia News Online

Occupational health and safety issues at the Beausejour Agricultural Complex in Vieux-Fort has led to the staff there going on what they described as a “sick-out”.

But Officer in Charge at the St. Lucia Civil Service Association, Mike Stephen Aubertin, told this reporter it’s not a sick out. According to him, the staff was asked to remove themselves from an environment which is deemed unfit for work by the Labour Department.

The distraught staff took such action yesterday (Monday) after they felt that they had endure the deplorable condition at their workplace for too long.

The complex, which houses a staff of 49, once had a very large livestock, but now has an insignificant number due to sale, death and theft.

“The roof of the building is infested with asbestos and bat feces, and the walls with moles. The floor and the partitions need repairing. There are no separate wash rooms for males and females,” a staff member said.

“It’s terrible… It’s three years since we were promised that the building would be renovated, but nothing has happened… Our health will be seriously affected if we continue to work under such terrible condition,” another staff member added.

Last Thursday two officers from the Labour Department inspected the building. Dr. Oria King, head of the department, was supposed to have met with the staff this morning (Tuesday).

The daily-paid workers at the complex is also affected by the situation. They too were expected to meet with their bargaining agent, the National Workers Union (NWU) today to discuss what course of action they should take.

Three years ago, they were promised by the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Darius Gabriel, that a separate building at the complex will be built where they would be housed, but that never happened.

In the meantime the situation at the complex remains tense.

IMAGE: Beausejour Agricultural Complex in Vieux-Fort

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