Government’s controversial outsourcing plan for garbage collection has received the blessing of the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), even though one if its members continues to raise hell over the plan.
In a statement this evening, no mention was made by CTUSAB of the word “privatization” which is a major bone of contention for the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).
However, CTUSAB General Secretary Denis de Peiza said the umbrella grouping for local trade unions supported Government’s move to engage private waste haulers, while denouncing the recent pile-up of garbage and the slow pace of collection by the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) as a “national concern”.
“As it stands, it is an undisputed fact that there is shortage of vehicles at the disposal of the Sanitation Service Authority to efficiently and effectively service the collection of garbage island wide,” the umbrella grouping said.
It also highlighted possible health threats, as well as the negative impact on tourism, while stating that an immediate solution had to be found.
“The Congress is understanding of the Government’s decision to engage private waste haulers at this time, and supports the initiative as a short-term measure,” the statement by de Peiza said.
However, in the interest the issue of transparency, it said Government should undertake to immediately engage the NUPW and other stakeholders in a process of consultation and dialogue.
“It is important that the NUPW and the employees of the SSA are satisfied that the temporary arrangement poses no threat to the continued employment of workers or impose changes to their existing conditions of service.
“CTUSAB therefore supports the NUPW’s call for consultation and dialogue in this matter and goes further to call for dialogue on this matter of waste collection and disposal at the level of the Sub-committee of the Social Partnership,” the statement suggested.
The private truckers agreed at a meeting last week to service St Philip, St Peter, St Lucy and St John at a rate of $411 per hour for eight hours a day, Monday to Friday.
However, the NUPW believes this is part of a wider privatization plot and has warned that it will not sit idly by and allow the SSA to be placed in private hands.
“The union always has the capacity to deal with such matters and when the time comes we have competency that would ensure that our members are not placed at a disadvantaged,” Acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, following a meeting with SSA workers at the union’s Dalkeith Road headquarters.
Walrond did not elaborate, but SSA sources say the matter threatens to descend into industrial action.