Perspex partitions, which now separate supermarket workers, particularly cashiers, from immediate contact with customers, came in for high praise today by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.
The Minister, who accompanied Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw on a tour of some supermarkets and banks, added his praise to that offered by the Acting Prime Minister, in respect of the efforts by management of these establishments to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
While also commending Barbadians for their approach to shopping in the COVID-19 environment, Minister Jordan said: “I think we’ve seen as she’s (Acting Prime Minister Bradshaw) indicated, the distancing. People are respecting it generally speaking, and I think that is to be commended. What I really want to speak to is the provision being put in place that we’ve seen for workers to keep them safe, even as they work to provide for Barbadians.”
Noting that in the tourism industry these partitions were regarded as “sneeze guards”, he stressed: “We’ve seen separations between customers and the cashier behind them; and that kind of innovation that speaks to a care, a concern for the workers who are on the front line is really commendable.”
Mr. Jordan, whose Ministry is mandated to deal with health and safety issues in workplaces, said some supermarket management had indicated their understanding of their responsibility to staff.
“They also understand that if there is a challenge with their staff, then the supply of the necessities to Barbadians would also be compromised.
“So, there is a dual responsibility that they have in protecting their staff, both for the staff’s own safety, but also for the benefit of Barbadians generally,” he said, further thanking Barbadians and workers on the whole “for stepping up to the plate” and “understanding their responsibility as front-liners as well”.
The Minister also noted that he had perceived a level of engagement by management at the supermarkets.
He said that there seemed to be communication and dialogue between management and workers, where management was liaising with, encouraging workers, responding to their fears and putting systems in place that allowed for staff “to feel comfortable in a very uncomfortable time”.
“We are in an uncomfortable time. Workers feel under threat to some degree from the virus, but what we’ve seen suggests that they understand their position; they understand their role in the country’s well-being, and they are taking seriously their need to protect themselves and so they are wearing their masks; they’re constantly sanitizing,” he stated.