At least one section of the Barbados Supreme Court Complex is to be temporarily relocated after environmental concerns this week forced a two-day closure of the building, although a new site has yet to be identified.
A decision was taken today at a meeting of court officials and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), to temporarily relocate the Registration Department in order to facilitate general cleaning.
Court officials said birth, marriage, death and cause of death certificates due to be collected on April 11, 12, 13, and 16, would be available on Monday, April 16, from the Registration Department in the Supreme Court Complex, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, empanelled jurors in matters in Criminal Court Nos. 2 and 5 are to report to court on Monday, April 16, at 9 a.m., while new jurors selected for the period April 16 to June 1 are to attend court at the same time on April 16 for a meeting with Supreme Court Registrar Barbara Cooke-Alleyne. Matters before the Court of Appeal will be heard in Court No. 9.
Cooke-Alleyne met with staff today and gave the assurance that their safety and health concerns were of high priority, while noting that the Ministry of Labour was involved in the matter.
The move has the approval of NUPW Deputy General Secretary Delcia Burke, who told Barbados TODAY that while there was no time frame for completion of the cleaning process, she was happy that workers were being removed from the hazardous environment.
However, she expressed concern that no location had yet been identified to relocate the Registration Department.
“It was agreed that the vaults would be moved; they are looking for a site to place the vault so that the persons who work with birth and death certificates can continue to serve the public. Right now they are looking for spaces to put them and as soon as they find a proper site the certificates would be restarted,” Burke explained.
“What I do know is that before persons can go back inside the entire building has to be cleaned. But they have not said how long it is going to take. I think what they plan to do is clean one section at a time, so I guess after they have re-sited the vault they can look at other areas,” she added.
Business at the Supreme Court Complex came to an abrupt end on Wednesday, after frustrated workers walked out due to concerns about environmental conditions.
Cooke-Alleyne, who had met with the various parties, had refused to disclose the source of the problem, only stating that “we do have some environmental issues at the court”.
However, NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith had condemned the complex as a “sick building”, explaining that the roof “would have to be changed because mould is dropping down onto the workers”.
“This is a matter where the roof is not a small issue so it will have to take some time, and it is going to be a high cost to have this building repaired.
“There are other conditions that are affecting the workers at different levels because, as we know, from the time that this building was erected here they always had environmental issues because of where it is situated,” Smith had said.
Today, her NUPW colleague also expressed concern about the number of workers who have fallen ill as a result of the problems in the building.
Back in February business in courtrooms on the third floor also had to be abandoned due to what several sources said was “mould on the walls and doors”.