My name is Kevin Baldeosingh and I’m probably Trinidad & Tobago’s best known atheist.
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Workers stay out of building
Monthly paid workers at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation are continuing work-to-rule action in an effort to highlight the poor conditions at the building in which they operate, although a new building for the corporation remains vacant. Chaguanas mayor Gopaul Boodhan confirmed the continuing protest action yesterday, saying the workers had raised health, safety and other conditions as the cause of their action. He said about 50 affected employees were leaving at 1 pm daily.
Boodhan assured that his administration had stepped up its effort to move all employees into the new building, which he said would eliminate all the problems they were facing. Last Thursday, work at the corporation came to a halt shortly after lunch when Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke led workers in a walkout.
During a two-hour closed-door meeting with Duke, workers complained about a cockroach and termite infestation, leaking sewer lines, pigeon droppings, cramped working spaces, overflowing toilets and mould problems. At the end of the meeting, Duke said the conditions were in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and led the staff out of the building. Commenting on the action, he said he had told members to report for duty each day, sign the register and then leave if the conditions persisted.
Duke said employees in several departments, including the municipal police, human resources, accounting, tendering, health and building inspectors, were among those who would be staying away from their jobs. He is also demanding that Mohammed produce the OSHA certification and the fire report for the buildings before the employees resume work. “This will continue until that is done, so we expect a number of things to be affected in this corporation here,” he said.
The following day, the corporation’s CEO, Ashmead Mohammed, met Duke, who passed on the list of issues facing workers. Boodhan said he understood the plight of the employees, as even his office had pigeons in the ceiling. He said he too was eager to move into the new administrative complex but explained that the work there was not yet completed.
He added, “The contractors and officials made a site visit on Monday and I am optimistic we will move into the new building in the shortest possible time. “The Ministry of Local Government gave a special-purpose company the authority to hire a contractor to outfit the building for us. When the SPC is satisfied the contractor has done all the work, they will sign off on it.”