Some residents in communities across the island affected by water shortages are venting their anger towards Barbados Water Authority [BWA] employees.
And while emphatically stating that workers could not be held responsible for the current water woes being experienced by those residents, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Toni Moore wants persons to desist from threatening workers.
Her appeal has come as residents in number of rural districts – mainly those in St Lucy, St Peter, St Andrew, St Joseph and St John – continue to battle severe water outages, which sometimes force them to go days without the precious commodity.
Referring to the threats as “regrettable and unfortunate”, Moore said it was outrageous that people were blaming BWA workers for their dry taps.
“It is with regret that we have to say that some workers of the BWA have been receiving threats from the public for not delivering water in their areas.
“I say regrettable because for members of the public to attribute some blame to workers, who themselves are being impacted, for not providing water is really unfortunate. I say that because some of the workers who are being attacked are in fact living in the areas where there are water shortages,” Moore told journalists shortly after a meeting to address issues concerning BWA employees at the BWU’s Solidarity House headquarters this evening.
“I know victims who have been travelling through areas and members of the public upset over the fact that they are not getting water are definitely levying a number of negatives…”
She said during the meeting it was revealed water tender operators were among those receiving threats.
“Individuals are so upset that they are not getting water, that when they see them passing through they are attacking,” the BWU head contended. “This is a kind of response to workers who are operating in circumstances beyond which they have any control, that we want to guard against.
“The Executive Council of the BWA would wish to urge the public that wherever there are those small pockets of dissenting voices that would take things to this kind of extreme, that you recognize the situation for what it is.
“We believe that where solutions are possible, that the solutions do not reside with the average worker, or the worker on the frontline that you will be coming into contact with on a day-to-day basis. And this is just my special appeal to desist from this particular behavior,” she added.
The BWU head advised workers who received threats to make a formal complaint to management at the BWA, as well as to the police.
Efforts to reach police public relations officer Acting Assistant Superintendent David Welch to ascertain if any reports had yet been lodged proved unsuccessful.
Moore also denied knowledge of BWA employees selling water and giving preferential treatment to certain residents.
Regarding the meeting, Moore told reporters it was held primarily to update BWA workers on a number of concerns which had been raised.
However, she said the primary concern was that of outstanding monies owed to employees since 2006.
She revealed it was a matter which had also been raised at the BWU’s last general meeting in November, and one which affected the majority of members.
“The issue which involves outstanding monies owed dating back to nine years ago is one that occupied our attention, because it basically touches on the majority of workers at the BWA.”
The General Secretary said the monies were not related to a wage increase, but rather an agreement from the BWA’s board of management pertaining to a job evaluation process done in 2006.
While admitting negotiations were going well at the domestic level, she said the BWU had received “commitment there would be involvement at the ministerial level” to have the matter resolved.