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Back to work, for now

LISA KING, [email protected]

Back to work, for now

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Workers at the Immigration Department will be on the job on Monday, as the threat of industrial action has been staved off for at least a few more days.

However, the reprieve could be brief, as the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) will meet with the department’s staff on Wednesday to determine the way forward.

Staff have been complaining about the physical and environmental conditions at the department’s Wharf Road headquarters for several years. 

The department is supposed to be relocated to the renovated Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. car park on Princess Alice Highway, which is undergoing renovation. 

Yesterday, NUPW general secretary Roslyn Smith spoke to the media following an almost hour-long tour of the renovated space.

“They are looking at March 5 as a handover, but I am having a meeting with the workers on Wednesday to put the situation to them and they will advise me where we go from there,” said Smith.

She pointed out that it was their third walk-through of the facility and decried the fact that work had been ongoing for nearly two years.

On Thursday, Smith said that if Friday’s tour did not have a positive outcome, staff would be told not to enter the Wharf Road building. However, yesterday she suggested that any action would be dependent on Wednesday’s meeting, which meant that staff would remain at the condemned Wharf Road headquarters a while longer.

In November, 2016, Minister with responsibility for Immigration Senator Darcy Boyce announced that the department would move to a new location by June 2017. 

The cleaning of files from the Wharf Road location was also another issue for Smith, who on Thursday said:

“The existing building has been condemned and is full of everything that is not conducive to a healthy work environment. I know they have made strides in moving all of the files that have been affected. I don’t know how far they have reached, but the cleaning of those files will take a while, so I don’t expect them to take them into the new building”. (LK)