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OWTU: Chick V in Arima

By \\\\\ Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

There are cases of the chikungunya virus close to the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) compound in Arima, vice president of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Peter Burke has said.


He told the media on Wednesday “at least two cases of the new virus” have been confirmed on Richard Street.

T&TEC workers who work there have raised health and safety concerns.

Burke said, “We just want to verify that there wasn’t a virus rumour. We were advised by reliable sources that there were cases of infection on Richard Street...north of the T&TEC compound in Arima ...We were advised by the workers that there were a higher level of mosquito infestations over the last few months...We are saying to the national community all the spin you have been hearing with regards the workers over-reacting is totally inaccurate and more importantly highly irresponsible,” Burke said during a press conference at the OWTU’s head office in San Fernando.

About 300 workers are employed at the Arima station which provides service to 200,000 customers in areas of San Juan, Blanchisseuse, Toco and Manzanilla.

The OWTU wants the Occupation Safety and Health Agency to get involved.

“If the minister is serious about controlling the spread of the aedes Egypti mosquito, certainly he would want to know that his officers in the public health department will force errant citizens or corporate entities to clean up in a short period of time and that, while this risk exists, he wouldn’t want to know that a corporate entity, with the resources to do better, is given two months to clean up an area,” Burke said.

He said the public health officials had visited the compound and found several health violations including stagnant water, poor disposal of refuge, tyres, open cesspit cover, puddles on the ground and buckets on T&TEC derelict trucks that were left upright and had stagnant water.

“Several recommendations were made to the local management. The health inspector returned Friday, nothing was done, at which time workers were informed that their health and safety were at risk and the OSH Act Section 15 gives the workers the right to remove themselves or his or her self from a dangerous situation,” Burke said.
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