Since the start of the “Coronavirus” crisis, the flower-growing sector has established safety protocols to stop the COVID-19 virus from infecting workers at flower-growing companies around the country. Among the measures adopted is having only half of the staff on duty caring for the flowers; which means employees devote their days to watering, caring for and generally keeping plants healthy, so that when everything returns to normal these can return to full production and our sector can bloom again.
All work is done following the highest safety standards, which include keeping physical distance during all tasks, including bus rides to and from work and lunch hours, adhering to dressing room schedules, monitoring compliance with hygiene protocols (regular hand washing, use of mask and gloves, and disinfecting work and common areas, including buses, at least twice a day), as well as strict monitoring for warning signs every morning by taking body temperatures and reporting those with flu-like symptoms to the human resources and occupational health and safety departments, who according to protocol are sent home or to their Health Care Provider for further monitoring.
Another strategy we have implemented and in which the sector is innovating is the use of home-offices. Functions such as marketing, accounting, purchasing, human resources, and management, among others, are carried out from home-offices, allowing more people to comply with the mandatory quarantine.
This experience, which society as a whole is facing, is leaving us with many things to learn from and improve, which is why it is important that companies share amongst them the good practices that make the difference in successfully managing a crisis such as this one. For example, Flores El Trigal provided their employees with disinfectants for surfaces such as chairs, tables and work tools, among others. Greenex and Jardines del Portal raised awareness through self-care campaigns with messages of hope and strength through their social networks. These campaigns evolved into outreach programs, since this was the starting point for them to begin donating medical equipment and bouquets to hospitals in states like Antioquia and Cundinamarca.
“We don’t just export flowers, but emotions too. From all the flower growing sector, we send our deepest gratitude to our health care workers”, said Jardines del Portal.
This is a sector that has grown through hard work and the commitment from Colombian entrepreneurs to create quality formal employment for the rural populations of Cundinamarca, Antioquia and the coffee-growing region. Whenever you ask a flower worker about their work, they will always answer with a smile on their face and pride in
their voice that they grow Colombia’s flowers. The sector as a whole employs more than 140,000 Colombians, allowing them to provide for their families, have access to quality education for their children and own a decent home.
But who better than them to tell us why they are so proud of working in this sector, which beyond mere products, delivers emotions, hope and joy to each person that receives a flower, a flower of Colombia, diversity that inspires.
“We are the ones who are going to work today so that others can have the hope of a job in a month, of a new sale for their business, and so that companies can survive so that people can have the hope of a full fridge, of new notebooks, of a decent life. What a pity if I make them uncomfortable by leaving at four in the morning and returning in the afternoon on their own routes, but the whole municipality profits from the flowers. We go to work with
complete trust in that we will return home healthy and eager to continue”. Yolanda, crop worker.
“For many years the flower companies have been the main economy in our municipality, during this crisis there are many people who work to keep each farm afloat, with the hope of forging a future for their families…. a round of applause for these heroes, many people in our municipality at this time enjoy a pension after dedicating more than 20 years of service to the flower companies, and many of us received education thanks to that effort, yet today many denigrate this work, forgetting that it was from there that they emerged”. Giovanni Castro, his mother worked for 35 years at a flower farm.