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NIS ‘committed to providing safe place to work’


NIS ‘committed to providing safe place to work’
NIS acting director, Jennifer Hunte. (GP)

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Management of the National Insurance Office has issued a statement after workers were off the job for two days this week.

On Tuesday, President of the National Union of Public Workers, Akanni McDowall, and head of Unity Workers Union, Caswell Franklyn, met with some staff of the National Insurance Department who had walked off the job on Tuesday afternoon.

The workers were complaining about a number of grievances, including their current working arrangements.

In the lastest developments, today’s Daily Nation reported that staff at the National Insurance Department would return to work today after being off the job for two days.

Akanni McDowall, president of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) reported that the complaints which caused workers to walk off the job at the Frank Walcott Building on Culloden Road, St Michael, on Tuesday had been resolved with management.

“We met with the director today [Wednesday] and we had a very productive meeting. The NUPW is satisfied with the outcome of the discussions,” McDowall said.

In addition, management of the National Insurance Office, in the statement issued late on Wednesday, said that on March 21, the department was made aware that “a staff member, whose most recent day at work was March 16, 2021, had tested positive for COVID-19”.

Acting director, Jennifer Hunte said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with our staff member and family and wishes are expressed for a speedy recovery.”

The statement said the “daily cleaning regimen of the National Insurance Office involves the use of a sanitising agent on all work surfaces”.

In addition, the COVID-19 safety protocols with respect to the proper wearing of masks, sanitising and physical distancing are in place.

“Management met with staff on March 22, 2021 and notified them of the positive case and advised them of the protocols regarding testing and possible contact tracing. The acting director advised she had not received any instruction from the health authorities to close the office.

“On March 23, 2021 some members of staff staged a work stoppage citing various concerns. Management met with NUPW representatives on March 23, 2021 and advised them of all actions taken following the notification of the positive case, the timelines involved and the daily sanitising regimen of the office.

The National Insurance Office said that it was agreed that additional sanitising of the office would be done. This was completed on March 23 and all staff members were informed, according to the statement.

“A concern was also raised about the proximity of workstations for those employees required to work from the Office. Management and staff met with the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit on March 23 and 24, 2021 and work is ongoing in this regard.

“The matter regarding the implementation of the flexible working arrangement policy was also discussed. Management advised that flexible working arrangements were already in operation and that employee requests would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“On the issue of the transition to a Statutory Board, a matter which does not fall under the purview of the acting director, the NUPW representatives informed management that this matter was one which they now needed to discuss amongst their membership,” the National Insurance Office said.

The NIS acting director has assured the staff and members of the public that the department “remains committed to strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols for a safe place to work and conduct business”. (PR/KG)