Sanitation workers back on strike
Sanitation workers walked off the job today, one day after ending a week-long strike in support of employees of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) and the Customs and Excise Department, who had been at odds with Government. However, today’s wildcat strike, which began from as early as 5:00 o’clock this morning, was over their wages.
The Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) workers were angry that management docked their pay for the period for which they were on strike.
When a Barbados TODAY team visited the SSA’s Wildey, St Michael headquarters around 8:45 a.m. several workers were seen sitting around, vociferously protesting the latest development.
A number of them showed the team from Barbados TODAY their payslips which indicated that, in some cases, workers were only paid for one or two days, while some received no pay at all for the week.
“All I can say is that as big men and women we showed solidarity with fellow workers employed at the Customs Department and the BIDC, and everybody in the Southern Division received two days pay and I do not think that that is reasonable nor right,” veteran SSA worker Adrian Husbands complained.
Long-standing employee David Sobers contended that they should have received their full wages because over the years, there had been strikes, and the workers received their full pay. Other employees angrily chanted, “no money, no work”, and some who said they had not joined the previous protest warned, “if management wants it, this is a different ball game today”.
Chairman of the Sanitation Services Authority Division of the National Union of Public Workers Hugh Smith held a brief meeting with the aggrieved workers, and later said the employees were hoping to begin negotiations with management soon.
He said the workers were assured by the superintendents that those who had participated in the recent industrial action would be paid, and said they would remain off the job until there was a resolution.
“We have to get to the bottom of this, and until that happens, the workers have been advised to withdraw their services until the matter is resolved. We are basically awaiting some clarification on the non-payment of this week’s wages,”Smith said.
Smith stressed that as Chairman of the SSA Division of the NUPW he could not say how widespread any industrial action would be, and would await direction from senior union officials.
Reacting to today’s work stoppage, NUPW Acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond expressed concern that the management had taken a “hardline position” in docking the workers’ wages.
Meanwhile, a roving team from Barbados TODAY did not find any evidence that garbage collection had returned to a level
of normality, having found huge pile-ups in St Michael and the City.
Large stacks of refuse were seen in districts such as Halls Road, Country Road, and Licorish Village, St Michael, and Lightfoot Lane and Greenpark Lane, the City.