The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is repeating its call for Government to end its agreement with private waste haulers.
Government last October outsourced its waste collection services in four parishes to the private truckers as it sought to come to grips with mounting garbage and a reduced fleet at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA).
The NUPW has opposed the deal from the very beginning, claiming it was the first step towards privatizing garbage collection.
With the six-month pilot due to end on March 31, the union has issued a statement calling on Government not to renew the contracts.
“The compliment (sic) of trucks at SSA is 20 and the workers are ready to take back their routes on 1st April, 2017,” the NUPW said in the statement dated February 6.
It repeated a previously made claim – denied by the SSA – that SSA workers had had to clean up after the private haulers, citing the termination of Anderson Fat Child Cherry’s services in St John to support its charge.
The NUPW also made reference to a “recent meeting with the SSA” at which it was advised that a contract had been finalized for the purchase of trucks for the waste collection agency, and that the new fleet of 17 would be here by September.
It also said that subsequent to that meeting it was told that “no loan agreement was made, no contract was being pursued and no trucks would be ordered”, even though Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe had previously given the assurance that the fleet would be replenished.
“It is against this background that the union is saying that the taxpayers are being taken for a ride,” the statement said.
“The management at the SSA is paying double for cleaning the same routes – the private haulers clean and then the SSA workers are sent behind them to clean the same routes.”
The NUPW may get its wish as Lowe Monday suggested that while the programme had been useful in terms of assisting the SSA with waste collection, it might have run its course.
He explained in a statement through the Barbados Government Information Service that the SSA was currently in a position to sustain between 20 and 24 trucks on the road daily, and “once that level is maintained at the end of the six months, it can be anticipated that some adjustments will be made to the waste haulers programme with the private sector”.
The minister also defended a decision by the SSA to reduce its fees to the truckers.
This had been the subject of a row between SSA and the haulers, who last month had written to both the SSA and Lowe complaining that their fees were cut without their consent.
In one such letter to Lowe, the private haulers reminded the minister of the deal reached in early October last year, when they agreed a scheme to improve the island’s waste collection, and expressed their horror at being told some of them would be paid less what had been agreed at the October talks.
The truckers were summoned to a meeting at the SSA on the afternoon of December 22, 2016 and “were instructed by the general manager to change our rate” to $300 per hour, VAT inclusive, and not the previously agreed rate of $350 per hour plus VAT, “which we humbly declined”, Managing Director of Williams Liquid & Solid Waste Management Inc Troy Williams wrote in the correspondence dated the same day and titled, meeting to retroactively change the rate of three of the five private waste haulers contracted to provide garbage removal services.
However, Williams Tuesday said the programme was going well despite a few early problems.
“We have had some challenges throughout the programme, but within the last two weeks it has regularized significantly. I would say that it is going at 100 per cent at this stage, and I hope that will continue,” Williams said after presenting a skip to his old primary school, the St Stephen’s Primary School, in Black Rock, St Michael.