The union representing Sanitation Service Authority workers is reporting that it is making slight progress in negotiations for the restoration of overtime pay.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and SSA management met again today at the authority’s Wildey, St Michael offices to continue talks on the issue. The perk had been slashed under the IMF-supervised Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, which has affected agencies and ministries across the Government.
Shortly after exiting the hour-long meeting, Acting NUPW general secretary Delcia Burke told Barbados TODAY that the union would report back to its members on the newest developments.
Burke said: “We have made a few strides. We are going to meet with the workers within a week and put the two sides’ case to the workers and get back to SSA management in a week’s time with the position of the workers.
“We are cognizant of the fact that there is an IMF programme in place and there are certain measures that have to be put in place so that that plan can be effective, but we are also mindful that our workers must not always be bearing the brunt of that programme. We put that to the SSA and we would have made a slight move and they made one as well, so we’re going to discuss it with our workers.”
Burke also contended that SSA workers were more efficient in collecting garbage than the private haulers who Government was paying to collect refuse. She pointed out that it would be almost impossible to avoid paying overtime to sanitation workers.
Burke added: “We are saying that in some instances overtime is going to be necessary and for the SSA we would have had the example of when the workers worked three weekends and you would have seen the difference with the streets when they worked those weekends.
“We also know that when we compare the tonnage of garbage that they collect to what the private haulers collect it is significantly larger. Obviously there are still going to be areas where persons are going to have to continue working overtime because the streets have to be cleaned everyday.”
At their last meeting held on February 1, the union’s acting deputy general secretary Wayne Walrond had charged that the nation’s health was being compromised for the sake of a few dollars, after a decision was taken to stop weekend collections to prevent paying overtime.
SSA spokesman Carl Padmore had revealed that the overtime cut had indeed contributed to irregular garbage collections in several rural communities, especially in the north of the island, as well as in St Joseph, St George and St John.