For the third time in as many months, the Sanitation Service Authority’s (SSA) attempt to introduce an any-five-out-of- seven-days workweek policy, has failed.
During a meeting on Tuesday with the bargaining agent, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), SSA workers unanimously shot down the latest proposal.
According to NUPW Assistant General Secretary Wayne Waldron, workers are adamant that weekends must remain reserved for their social life and family commitments.
“The National Union of Public Workers would have met with sanitation workers on February 19 to have further discussions on the management’s proposals, where they would vary the agreement to work from Monday to Friday, and instead work
any five out of seven days. We had robust discussions on the issue and the workers made it clear that the weekend is for their families and recreation,” Waldron told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
The development means that it is back to the drawing board as it relates to the overtime discussions between the union and SSA management.
Following a meeting with SSA board and management last week, the union reported slight progress in negotiations for the restoration of overtime pay, which first reared its head last December. Earlier this month, SSA spokesman Carl Padmore had revealed that the overtime cut, which has resulted in the cessation of weekend collections, had 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.
Overtime 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 at the time: “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.
However, this afternoon Waldron said that while the workers have acknowledged Government’s prerogative to stop overtime, they are concerned by what they see as an attempt to unilaterally change the terms of their employment. According to the NUPW spokesman, the workers contend that they are more than able to service the garbage collection needs of the island within the current workweek framework, providing Government keeps its promise to replenish the complement of garbage trucks. According to reports last month, which factored in the importation of two new trucks, the SSA only had 17 trucks to service over 150 routes
“The workers are in no fight for any overtime because it is the management’s and Government’s prerogative to allow it or not. The workers are saying that it is a simple problem, [which could be solved by giving] them the equipment and trucks, and they will continue to deal with timely and efficient garbage collection,” he said.
The NUPW Assistant General Secretary further stressed that workers “are under the distinct impression that they are being marginalized and intimidated into varying their contract, which says Monday to Friday. They don’t see any rationale to being bullied into giving up Saturday and Sunday.”