UPW) is “blue vex” over what its Acting General Secretary Delcia Burke suggests is the Freundel Stuart administration’s unilateral decision to extend its garbage collection arrangement with private waste haulers.
Burke said the programme, which started last October and was due to end this month, was extended without a word being said to the union, which represents the majority of workers at the state run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA).
“The union does not agree with the position [to extend the programme]. We never agreed in the first place for the Government to privatize or extend the collection of garbage to the private sector. We were against that from the beginning,” Burke told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, adding that “the last thing we heard when we spoke to the management of Sanitation is that they [private waste haulers] would finish by last weekend”.
Though unclear about how long the programme would be extended, the union official warned that the decision would put the jobs of SSA workers in jeopardy.
“We have to now meet as a group and discuss our next move . . . the executive is going to meet, obviously we are going to meet with the Sanitation Service Authority and then we will make a decision about what we are going to do from there . . . and we are also going to meet with the workers,” said Burke, who is not ruling out possible industrial action at this stage.
During a meeting of the SSA’s management two weeks ago it was decided that the private waste haulers’ contracts would be terminated on Thursday, April 13, 2017.
However, in a subsequent memorandum dated April 18, 2017, Acting SSA Manager Rosalind Knight reversed that decision. “I refer to an operations meeting held April 7, 2017 where you were informed that the Special Collection Programme which commenced on October 10, 2016 will conclude on April 13, 2017. I am to inform you that the decision to conclude the programme is rescinded,” said Knight in the memo addressed to the Authority’s acting superintendents at its north, southwest and southeast depots.
“I am also to inform you that regarding this programme, the Minister of Environment and Drainage has instructed through the chairman of the board of directors, that the SSA should take no action to terminate the existing relationship with the private haulers until an official ministerial decision on the programme is issued,” Knight further cautioned in the document, a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY.
However, the workers’ bargaining agent is contending that it was neither officially informed nor consulted on the move.
“Nobody has said anything to us. We got a copy of that letter which was not addressed to us . . . but somebody made a copy available to us. All we know is what we saw in the letter that it is a ministerial decision and that the decision to suspend it [programme] has been rescinded and that it is continuing,” Burke complained to Barbados TODAY.
When contacted, waste hauler Michael Forde of Forde’s Freighting and Rental Services Limited said he heard that his contract was to be extended but he was yet to be officially informed.
“I would be willing to continue collecting for the good of Barbados.” Forde added.
Another hauler, Troy Williams of Williams Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc was also unclear about what is happening, so too the Managing Director of Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc Anderson Fat Child Cherry, while Managing Director of Garbage Masters Limited Roger Manning was unavailable for comment.
Efforts to reach Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe and the SSA’s Acting Manager Knight today for comment also proved futile.
However, earlier this year, Lowe had ordered a review of the $411 per hour rate paid to the private waste haulers after the fee became a source of contention between his ministry and the NUPW. However, the minister had denied at that time that his ministry had gone ahead and implemented a reduced rate
of $300 per hour after the private haulers had accused the SSA of unilaterally cutting their pay.