With employees of the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) still complaining of a lingering odour, even after being relocated to another floor of the Baobab Towers in Warrens, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) says it will be carrying out a thorough investigation to determine the source of the problem.
Acting General Secretary Wayne Walrond told Barbados TODAY there have been recurring complaints, and he suggested there may be an engineering issue that needs to be urgently rectified.
It was in October 2018 that the workers first complained about the odour, when they were located on the fifth floor of Baobab Towers. After a two-day work stoppage, they were moved to the sixth floor.
But Walrond said that had not resolved the issue and despite several investigations by the authorities, not only does the odour linger but workers are still falling ill.
“The union will have to check with the relevant authorities to see what the update in the findings [is]. We are concerned that despite all the complaints and the investigations being made, this problem is still ongoing. Definitely one has to question if it is an engineering problem . . . . This was from the inception of the building and if there are engineering problems dealing with the whole sewage system and the extraction of smells and the layout of the system . . . then you would have a constant problem,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“It raises the question of ‘how soon would it be corrected if it comes down to an engineering problem . . . . how soon would you intend to fix it?’, as the workers are still in the building and suffering this injustice,” Walrond added.
The BSS workers are adamant they are not being taken seriously by the Government or the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
One employee, who contacted Barbados TODAY Tuesday afternoon but preferred to remain anonymous, said she spits white mucus when she enters the building.
“As I step in the building, I experience burning around the mouth and the metallic taste on the tongue, as well as dizziness and headaches during the day. I am also having dizzy spells. Sometimes when I get home, I am so lethargic that I cannot help my child; that is not good enough,” she said.
“I am concerned with this situation as it is too much and too awful for someone like me. I just want this thing to be over because I am very tired. This is my health and I am tired [of] entering a building where I have those symptoms. Yes, you need a job but you need to be healthy because you have offspring who, if anything happens, are vulnerable.”
Another worker who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity said she was getting sick up to the end of July, before she went on holiday.
“I had started to feel really ill to the point . . . I wanted to throw up. I had some really bad headaches, the metallic taste in my mouth. I was still getting rashes on my skin – on my arms and my neck,” she said.
The source added that since being on vacation, all those symptoms have disappeared.
“I have no issues. None of the things I told you I have now I am on vacation, so it is certainly that building,” she insisted. (LG)