Ministry of Culture off the job after rat invasion

Vector control and health and safety officers were called in at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs after sightings of rodents and droppings prompted workers to walk out of their offices.

While some of the approximately 80 workers returned to their stations after about three hours, others were given the option of returning home until industrial cleaning is completed over the weekend.

Shop steward of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Obrien Smith told Barbados TODAY that the employees left the building “for health and safety reasons”.

“We just cannot return to work. At the end of the day it is about a person’s health. You just cannot go back in the office. I would not say that we are off the job, because we are at work,” he said.

Smith said colleagues told him since Monday that they had seen “what appeared to be rat droppings”.

Workers took to the car park after abandoning their offices.  (At far right in black shirt) NUPW shop steward Obrien Smith.
Workers took to the car park after abandoning their offices.
(At far right in black shirt) NUPW shop steward Obrien Smith.

“Subsequent to that, one of the officers took some photos of the droppings. Yesterday, while sitting in the office I saw a mouse running around. This can present a serious threat to workers’ health. Therefore, I drew it to my immediate supervisor and he notified the Administrative Officer and Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman was also notified,” he said.

Blackman confirmed that she had received the report about rat droppings in some sections of the ministry. She said owners of the mall had caught the rodent in a trap and environmental personnel were called in.

The senior civil servant said industrial cleaning has been scheduled for over the weekend.

“We will do all in our power to ensure that our staff is protected at all times,” she said.

“The workers have their rights and I cannot fault them for that.”

Blackman told Barbados TODAY that several of the employees worked in the field and their work schedule would therefore not have been affected.

However, she pointed out that others who worked in the office had a choice to return home or stay on the job.

8 Responses to Ministry of Culture off the job after rat invasion

  1. Ronnie Murrell
    Ronnie Murrell February 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    De rats coming????

  2. Lady-Stylez Pilgrim
    Lady-Stylez Pilgrim February 5, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Actual rats or Hmmmm. ….

  3. Erika Watson
    Erika Watson February 5, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Just above Mall International food court. Hmmm!!!

  4. Maxine Hutchinson February 5, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Rat droppings are but one of a number of health issues that workers face on a daily basis. What about the closed-up air conditioned buildings in which persons work for years, breathing in the same old carbon dioxide minute by minute, together with that which is added by the end of each day from the breathing out of everyone. You return to work each day to breath the same old carbon dioxide and when you begin to suffer with respiratory ailment after a while, persons treat you as though your are faking illness and proceed to destroy your character with persons in authority, who, somehow believe every word that they hear and fall in line to condemn those who are going through hell to stay on the job.The insurance companies are crying out but no one is doing anything about the smelly carbon dioxide buildings.

  5. Pinky Swear
    Pinky Swear February 5, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    would be ironic as hell if it was the ministry of health.

  6. Halsey Clarke
    Halsey Clarke February 5, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    You see the size of the ones by cheapside bus station, one can milk them.

  7. Tony Webster February 6, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Rattus Rattus…a.k.a. the Norway Rat, does not like to be disturbed. Indeed, it avoids places where it and its family, are likely to be disturbed by human activity. It does not normally subsist on eating paper, plastic, tinsels, body-paints, lighting equipment etc.

    It however would make an exceoption, and takes up occupancy in most offices, schools etc, if careless persons were to daily leave behind, several “snack-boxes” containing food scraps…or even if these were not secured in a metal garbage container with a proper lid, and disposed of regularly to the sanitation folks.

    If such conditions are present, “industrial cleaning”, is just a “sticking-plaster ” . Listen to what the vector-control folks will tell you…and also get them to set those traps, to get rid of the current collection of unwelcome guests.

    Most things, both good…and bad…start …”at home”!


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