JALGO calls for increased investment to keep workers safe during COVID-19 pandemic

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was designated to celebrate nurses and midwives for the critical work they do in our society. However, things have changed, and while we still celebrate these important workers, we expand outward to celebrate all health and connected workers involved in the fight during this time of crisis.

The situation is dire with the numbers of infections and deaths continually increasing on a daily basis. It’s an unwelcomed challenge that has put the world on the back foot with countries facing a stark reality of potential social and economical collapse.

Today, World Health Day, the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO) join hands in solidarity and laud the efforts of workers in the health sector not only in Jamaica but globally. Workers who are unable to heed the advice to stay home because they are called to the front lines to deliver quality public services associated with care, prevention and tackling the various issues associated with the virus.

However, the delivery of quality public services cannot only be done through sheer will and commitment. What is required is massive investments on the part of governments to ensure that workers and systems are properly resourced. These workers are our last stand preventing total chaos and the devolvement of our society.For years incorrect advice has been delved out in terms of the non investment in public services and our inability ability to control the pandemic has been the result.

According to a very pertinent statement from our global union federation Public Services International (PSI) “unpreparedness of health systems, including understaffing, gruelling long working hours, and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) are exposing health workers to fatal hazards that also undermine the capacity of the health systems to respond to the emergency”.

What we need now is safe workers to save lives and therefore we join the call of our global federation issued for governments to invest more in health services and workers, to stop and reverse the trends of privatization and to call on International Financial Institutions to change the narrative associated with this. We commit to further continue our dialogue with our respective Government to ensure that workers rights are paramount as we seek to protect the health of citizens.

However while we do this, we encourage workers to practice the highest safety standards and to avoid putting themselves in harm’s way because their importance cannot be overstated. On this day JALGO salutes you all as you continue to makes things better in this trying time.

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