Classes at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology. (SJPI) came to a temporary halt today as disgruntled teachers walked off the job over long running environmental issues.
The workers also used the occasion to press for the appointment of a department head, whom their union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) did not name, but said had been acting for ten years in a position the union also did not reveal.
From 9 a.m. staff invoked the Health and safety at Work Act over what they said were health risks posed by the workshops on the campus.
The work stoppage came to an end at 2:30 p.m. following a meeting of the teachers, the NUPW and the school’s administration, at which it was agreed that theoretical work would continue for the remain of the week, but no practical work, to allow the authorities time to clean the workshops.
“The NUPW would have come in to investigate a complaint of some environmental issues in the workshop section. We met with management today to come up with some quick solutions. We have come up with the temporary solution where the teachers would only do theory and during this week the school would do some industrial cleaning,” Wayne Walrond, the acting deputy general secretary of the NUPW told reporters, while making it clear the union would do an inspection of the workshops on Monday to determine if the clean-up were satisfactory.
“Workshops would generate things like dust and emissions from things like welding. In the long run we have to look at things like extractions and ventilation to deal with it once and for all. Workers would have indicated that some of these matters have been going on for years and repeatedly communicated. So these matters are not new to the administration,” Walrond added.
With regard to the appointment issue, the NUPW spokesman said this matter could be easily resolved by the Personnel Administration Division (PAD), which would have to declare the post vacant, thereby allowing for the appointment process to begin.
He also pointed out that the issue of retroactive payment for the employee still had to be addressed.
Stressing that the he did not want to go down the road of timeline ultimatums at this juncture, Walrond said he expected the PAD to pay urgent attention to the matter.
“Our colleague has been in this position for ten years and we are saying that this is untenable. This is a matter between the administration of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and PAD, who is supposed to declare the post vacant. We hope that we get this matter resolved expeditiously and that the person is appropriately compensated for all the work that they were doing for those years,” he said
Walrond contended that Government had no excuse for not being up to date with the individual’s acting allowance.
“There is no reason why this individual should not have received acting allowances over the years. We don’t want to go down the road of deadlines, but we do not expect to have this issue dragging on or we would have to contemplate other action,” he stressed. (CM)