Workers at the state-run National Sports Council (NSC) have been relocated following a walk out today against environmental issues that forced some of them out of the My Lord’s Hill, St Michael headquarters.
Acting Minister of Sports Kirk Humphrey told Barbados TODAY a decision was made this afternoon by management to move the NSC’s operations to the Wildey Gymnasium and close the Blenheim facilities for the rest of the week.
“I just spoke to the acting director [Neil Murrell] who informed me that there were some issues in relation to a smell and that there were bugs. I don’t know what kind of bugs…but there were bugs that were found in the building,” Humphrey said.
“And during the course of the weekend, there was a cleaning of the building…industrial cleaning to rid the building of the bugs; and that staff didn’t come in on Monday to allow the building to lose the scent. But that today when they showed up for work, there was still the odour in the building and some traces of the chemical could be seen,” the acting sports minister explained.
He said a decision was taken today for the staff not to reenter the building and for work to continue for the rest of the week from the gymnasium.
“So the staff will be operating there from tomorrow in facilities that are already there. There might be a case of retrofitting one or two [areas]. It is my understanding that for the most part, the staff is satisfied with that. There were some people, who, as a result of the interaction with the chemicals, were not feeling very well. But for the most part, everybody is satisfied with the decision made to move the staff over,” he added.
Humphrey also told Barbados TODAY a children’s sports camp which had been using the sports council’s compound, would also be relocated to various venues and their parents would be informed accordingly.
“So, to the best of my understanding, the situation there is being handled,” he assured.
Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Dwaine Paul welcomed the move, but said he hoped the staff was not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
Paul is also disappointed that today’s decision was not taken before against the backdrop of earlier promises to relocate.
“We believe the action should have been more proactive. But we are satisfied that once the workers are being moved to a location that is sanitary and enables them to carry out their duties in the conditions which they deserve to work in, we are satisfied,” Paul said.
The senior union official stressed that the BWU was happy once the gymnasium was going to be cleaned seeing it had been vacated for some time, and that a proper walkthrough was made to ensure workers were not being taken from one problematic environment to another.
This morning when some of the workers who complained of feeling unwell walked out of the sports council’s offices, they reported that there was an infestation of bed bugs and a strong chemical scent.