The island’s largest public sector trade union has reacted swiftly to this week’s assurance in Parliament by Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe that Government had no intention of privatizing the state-owned Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) at this time.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) had viewed with suspicion, the recent outsourcing of some SSA garbage collection duties, charging it was the first step towards privatization.
Today, it welcomed the minister’s announcement, but with some reservations.
“Yes, we support the comments made that there would be no privatization, but in the present circumstances we want to see as soon as possible, those trucks replaced within six months and be fully engaged across the landscape of Barbados,” Acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond told Barbados TODAY, adding that Lowe was merely echoing the union, when he said that the SSA was an essential social service that must remain in the hands of the state.
While agreeing that the accumulation of garbage was not the fault of the workers, Walrond rejected the minister’s suggestion that Government was not to blame.
“We cannot agree that Government is not responsible for the garbage collection issue at the SSA because decisions are made at the management level and obviously they are influenced by transfer of funds by Government to run the SSA,” the union official contended.
Walrond argued that if Government had replaced the aging trucks over the years, the state-run garbage collection agency would not have been backed into a situation where it had to contract private haulers.
Under the new waste plan, private haulers have been servicing four parishes – St Philip, St Peter, St Lucy and St John – at a rate of $411 per hour for eight hours a day, Monday to Friday. The arrangement is expected to continue for six months in the first instance.