The St. Kitts and Nevis export manufacturing sector which contributes in a tangible way to the country’s socio-economic activity is putting behind the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by resuming manufacturing, with 73 per cent of the employees having returned to work under new protocols at the workplace.
“I am pleased to report that our manufacturing sector, and our enclave manufacturing sector in particular, is making steady progress in putting our people back to work,” said Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Timothy Harris on a Tuesday, June 30 edition of Leadership Matters, a virtual forum series.
“Since Covid-19 and the closure of a number of our factories, all seven major export manufacturers are now back in business.”
According to the Prime Minister who was a panellist along with Financial Secretary Mrs Hilary Hazel, Deputy Financial Secretary Mrs Sylvia Manning-Gumbs, and Director of the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board Mr Antonio Maynard, 720 manufacturing workers out of a total of 982, which represents 73 per cent of the workforce, are out to work.
The Leadership Matters – a virtual forum series, which was into its 10th edition, was moderated by Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Ms Valencia Grant.
“We expect by October more workers will be back on the job as the employers satisfy the protocols established by our National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC),” said Dr Harris who noted the St. Kitts and Nevis is the largest exporter of manufactured products from the OECS and Barbados.
Based on the data presented to him by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the Honourable Prime Minister gave the numbers of employees who had returned to work at the seven leading manufacturing companies.
Jaro Electronics which has a total staff of 300 is operating one shift and has 156 at work. Kajola-Kristada Ltd with a total pool of 205 employees is operating two shifts and the number of employees currently working stands at 158. The Sandy Point-based IAPI Harowe Servo Controls St. Kitts Ltd, which had 225 employees at the time of Covid-19, is presently operating one shift with 183 of the employees back to work.
The Carib Brewery has an employee base of 140 persons, and according to Dr Harris, to date 135 are now back on the job. Electrofab (St. Kitts) which had 69 employees is now operating one shift and has 45 of the employees back to work. All the 35 employees at St. Kitts Brushes are back to work, as are the eight employees at Demerara Distillers who are also back to work.
The Prime Minister reported that it is expected that after certain repairs and renovation work at Jaro Electronics, the company will be back to near full capacity, and noted that more persons at work “makes it better for our economy, better for our families, indeed better for all of us.”
He, however, noted that some of the workers who have underlying conditions are required by the rules to work from home.
“I want to make it clear that the workers have returned under new protocols at the workplace and by and large the protocols would require that there be enhancement in terms of sanitation, respect and compliance with social distancing rules, new arrangements for lunch and for gathering at the workplaces,” said Prime Minister Harris.
He added: “We have been able to do all of these in an orderly way and to get our people back to work. I think this speaks well to our people, our workforce and to the high quality of engagement and response from the National Emergency Operations Centre.”