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Ministers praise Nestle’s work-from-home policy

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Head of the Nestle Anglo-Dutch Caribbean region, Josue De La Manza, from left, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein at the opening of Nestle’s renovated head office and launch of a plant-based factory in Valsayn on Friday. – Photo courtesy Nestle

Two government ministers have praised a leading manufacturer for its work-from-home policy even as the Prime Minister has said the public sector is not ready for a similar working arrangement.

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein on commended Swiss food and beverage producer Nestle on its policy for at work and work from home for its staff. The ministers attended Nestle’s launch of a new factory of plant-based products and the reopening of its renovated head office in Valsayn.

Gopee-Scoon, praising Nestle for launching the factory, was most impressed by the company’s ability to establish a sustainable work-from-home policy which will allow 40 per cent of staff at the head office to operate remotely.

She said the occasion, which signals the beginning of a new era for Nestle, also reflected a post-pandemic working environment.

“It combines the experiences of a traditional workspace with evolving virtual realities. This scenario demonstrates the company’s aspirations to adapt and evolve as it moves forward into the future.”

Gopee-Scoon said that TT is “now moving from the acute phase of the pandemic into the endemic phase of covid19. The resiliency of the manufacturing sector and its ability to adopt innovative business strategies and models to ensure economic growth are necessary. This ability has clearly been exhibited by Nestle in their operations and in the initiatives being launched today.”

Hosein also applauded Nestle for the new factory and establishing a seamless interface which would allow a percentage of its staff to work from home. The minister also commented the company for hitting a new milestone with the launch of the plat-based factory.

He said, “I am especially pleased that despite the challenges of the pandemic, you were able to open this new plant based production line at your factory which in turn will expand the locally-produced options available for consumers. special congratulations also on your re-designed and modernised head office – the brainbox where ideas become reality.”

The plant-based factory will manufacture Nature’s Heart almond milk, in the first instance. Head of the Nestle Anglo-Dutch Caribbean region, Josue De La Manza said the company recognised that growth and development cannot happen if there is no investment, change, risk-taking or thinking outside the box.

Head of the Nestle Anglo-Dutch Caribbean region, Josue De La Manza, from left, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein sample Natures Heart almond milk at the launch of a factory line of plant-based products at the Valsayn facility on Friday. – Photo courtesy Nestle

In his feature address, he added the newly refurbished facility caters for 60 per cent of the staff on site, thus reducing carbon footprint.

“Our head office has a no fixed workspace policy and our productivity tools are portable to allow staff to work anywhere on the property. We are truly mobile.”

He added the vision is to make the new factory the manufacturing hub for plant-based beverages anywhere in the Caribbean.

On Monday, journalists asked Dr Rowley, given the fuel price increases of $1 per litre for super and premium gasoline, and 50 cents per litre for diesel, if government is reconsidering a work-from-policy for the public sector.

Rowley said, “I don’t know that we are sufficiently prepared for that to be a major initiative, largely because it requires certain technical infrastructure and a certain level of discipline.

“Some people not even working in the office, so we have to be careful how we talk about that.”

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He said in the private sector, and if it “happens to be useful” to the public sector, the government would not be opposed to such a change, but “we have not really embarked upon that as a major initiative.

“We still expect people to be at the workplace.”

During the height of the pandemic, the public servants worked remotely through the lockdowns and most services were done online.

The PNM’s manifesto for the 2020 general election listed reduced traffic and the implementation of work-from-home practices as reasons to vote for the party.

It said, “The PNM will support and facilitate remote working and work-from-home (policies) in both the public and the private sector. The reduced burden on the working population will have a positive influence on community and family life.”

At Friday’s event, Gopee-Scoon also noted that over the years, TT’s non-energy sector has risen to the occasion and is expected to grow by 2.5 per cent in 2022.

“Within the non-energy sector, manufacturing remains an important and dynamic catalyst in our economy. It is a major contributor to our gross domestic product at approximately 20 per cent with a value of $26.3 billion. It generates significant foreign exchange and employs over 52,000 persons.

“This sector exported $7.4 billion in 2020 which rose to $10.8 billion in 2021. The food and beverage sub sector, where Nestle is categorised, has increased by 28 per cent from $1.13 billion to $1.44 billion over the equivalent period January to June 2021 and January to June 2022.”