The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is demanding an urgent meeting with management of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) to discuss “serious” matters affecting workers.
NUPW’s Acting Deputy General Secretary Wayne Walrond this morning accused the SSA of starving workers of resources needed to perform their duties.
She said the state agency was refusing to replace an aging fleet and as a result only ten of the required 45 garbage trucks operated daily.
The trade unionist surmised that management’s actions were in preparation for privatization and contracting out work.
“Staff are extremely annoyed, offended, despondent as to why they are being starved of these resources they need to really carry out the job they enjoy,” Walrond told journalists at the news conference at the NUPW’s headquarters in Dalkeith, St Michael.
He said the refuse collection agency was employing workers from the drainage division to do overtime work that can be done by SSA employees, describing this as inappropriate.
“If the overtime is incurred on sanitation’s part or as a bilateral agreement, the whole notion of it is wrong. In principle it is a wrong approach because you are bypassing the very workers that are able to do the job.”
The union executive complained that the two sides last met in December 2015, and that talks planned for January were called off. He said the union was still trying to confirm a meeting with SSA’s management but it was not willing to wait forever.
“Our first remit would be to sit around the table urgently and have these issues addressed. If we don’t get a meeting within an immediate time we would be advancing this process to ensure that these matters are addressed.
“We would take whatever action deemed necessary to ensure that workers concerns are addressed because we cannot continue in a state of inertia and we can’t operate where labour management relations are under arrest. We are concerned generally that there seems to be an attack on labour. There seem to be a disrespect for labour,” Walrond maintained.
The Acting Deputy General Secretary revealed that the union had been advised of a proposed pilot project that, if successful, would pave the way for a private company to take over in the collection of garbage from Rock Hall, St Philip to Checker Hall, St Lucy. He did not elaborate.
However, the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) issued a release this afternoon stating that an overall improvement of sanitation, a reduction in the pile up of garbage and an improved collection service were among key objectives of Highway Waste Management Pilot Project to be launched soon by the SSA.
The project, which will get underway Monday, April 11 and scheduled to last for one month in the first instance, will cover two routes, the BGIS release said.
It said Route One begins at Brigade House, travels through the precincts of Bridgetown and throughout the greater Bridgetown environs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning at 2 p.m. until the route is completed. The second route is divided into two parts. The first starts at Rock Hall, St Philip and ends at the roundabout at the bottom of University Drive via Highways 7. The second will continue from the roundabout at the bottom of University Drive, on to the Cement Plant in St Lucy via Highway 1. This will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, beginning at 6 p.m. until the route is completed.
“The public is asked to note that the regular scheduled pick-up services will continue as usual. Residents living in the areas where the pilot project is being executed are asked to put out their garbage as usual and to look out for collection on the normal scheduled collection days. All trucks taking part in the project will be marked for identification purposes,” the release stated. (AH)