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Smith: Let staff stay off the job


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General secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Roslyn Smith, wants staff at the Treasury Building in Bridgetown to be allowed to stay off the job while thorough investigations are undertaken into what caused some of them to fall sick on Tuesday.

Smith, who spoke to the media yesterday after the NUPW launched its new membership and discount card at the Horatio Cooke Auditorium at its Dalkeith, St Michael headquarters said: “I would expect or ask the management . . . to allow the workers to remain off the job at least tomorrow [today], so that those persons who are carrying out the investigations will have a free range of the building.”

On Tuesday staff walked off the job complaining of respiratory problems, said to be as a result of mould and a pungent scent emanating from the area occupied by the Accountant General’s Office. 

Staff at the Barbados Revenue Authority, also located in the building, was unaffected and their operations continued uninterrupted.

Smith said she understood some testing was done yesterday.

“That is why I take serious issue to persons trying to split hairs of having the workers come and report and sit outside. To me that is a waste of time; allow the workers to be off the compound. Look at the issue seriously and try to have it rectified and at least by next Monday or so we should be in a better position to know what is the real condition of the Treasury Building,” Smith said.

The trade union leader added that the location of the building was a major factor in the environmental issues experienced over the years because of the exposure to carbon monoxide from vehicular traffic and lack of regular maintenance.

The conditions at the Immigration Department’s, Wharf Road office were also a point of concern for Smith, who said that there would be a tour of the Princess Alice Corporate Centre in Bridgetown, where the department was expected to be relocated.

 “We have been pushing very hard in terms of the Immigration Department . . . because we felt that the building should have been handed over since last year July or so,” Smith said, adding that the project was behind schedule.

If after today’s tour the project is pushed back further and there is no positive outcome, the NUPW general secretary indicated that the workers would know what to do next. When asked what the course of action would be, Smith said: “Do not go into the building.”

There have been persistent complaints about the physical environment at the Immigration Department’s current headquarters for many years. (LK)