Fresh trouble is brewing at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) hinting at the possibility of industrial action over wages.
The union is upset that SSA workers had not been paid for the month of July last year.
It was during that period that sanitation workers went on strike in support of forcibly retired employees of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, as well as workers at the Customs & Excise Department who were fighting their transfer to the Barbados Revenue Authority.
The week-long strike resulted in unsightly pile-ups of refuse across the island.
Speaking at a press conference at NUPW’S Dalkeith headquarters today, Acting Deputy General Secretary Wayne Walrond avoided linking the wage shortage to the strike.
In fact, he emphasized several times that those who failed to show up for work at the time had been unwell.
Walrond explained that last July’s pay sheets were submitted by superintendents on behalf of the workers but that SSA management had “bluntly” refused to honour them.
And he warned that if the workers did not get what was due to them in a timely manner, the union would take action.
“We can only come to the conclusion that they are questioning the integrity of their own staff. Staff has a right if they are not well to report in and say they are not, as happens across the public service and other boards. If you are not well you call in and you report it, you report not well, it is treated as a sick day,” he said.
“This is the height of madness that we are dealing with. We are not the persons to prove that the workers must be paid. They are to prove why they have refused to honour the pay sheets presented for payment for their workers,” he added.
Walrond accused the garbage collection agency of disrespecting its employees, who he said took their responsibilities seriously.
“Sanitation workers are so conscious about their work that even if they are not well or they are unwell, they always seek to come back quickly and have that garbage removed quickly and that is the sort of conscientious worker that we have at sanitation.
“They move with alacrity, they move business-like and they are very concerned about having garbage removed quickly from the different residential areas across this country. And therefore, one can’t understand if they call in not well, why you would have to treat them in such manner,” he said.