A top official of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Monday warned that all was still not well at the Air Traffic Control Tower at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
The BWU’s Deputy General Secretary and Director of Industrial Relations Dwaine Paul reported that the Tower remained severely understaffed, with 40 officers forced to perform the job of 70 workers and in an unhealthy environment in which there were frequent reports of workers coming down with respiratory illnesses.
Paul also said the lone elevator was currently broken, leaving workers to climb several flights of stairs daily to get to their work stations.
The union also raised concern that cadet officers were recruited to work in the Air Traffic Control Tower at the level of a clerical officer, even though the Department is supposed to be manned by specialized staff.
While warning of the mounting problems in the Department, Paul said: “The question is: how much more can the workers take?” “When you enter a system which is not responsive to you then at some point you have to say enough is enough.”
In this regard, he suggested that the Public Service Act and the amendments to Government’s Qualification Orders needed “to be looked at and re-examined sooner rather than later” since the present system “is frustrating to those who work in it; those who are administered by it and those who rely on it for services.
“The system is woefully inadequate, either because it does not have enough manpower assigned to it, or the system itself is just too cumbersome to give effective and timely administration,” Paul told Barbados TODAY.
He further contended that the system was retarding the growth of the country and suggested, “somebody should call a spade a spade, put it under the microscope and address it once and for all.
“Where we need to repeal the legislation, let us repeal it. Where we need to make changes, let us make the changes, but we cannot continue to have a system that generates so many problems for public servants and the country by extension because this red tape runs right through every aspect of Government,” Paul emphasized.
The BWU spokesman further took issue with the Personnel Administration Division saying, “Public servants cannot get their appointments and they cannot get their salaries, [and yet] it is expected that we would have a public service which serves the public and by extension the regional and international community when there are these kinds of problems, bottlenecks and confusion”.
While leading off debate on the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Senate last Wednesday, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Senator Irene Sandiford Garner acknowledged that the island’s air traffic controllers were facing challenges. She said the Ministry was working closely with the union to correct them.
However, Paul remained concerned that there was no fixed timetable for addressing the workers’ concerns.