Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke has been slammed by his own employees who complained of being forced to work in "sick buildings."Duke, who is known for being vocal over poor working conditions and encouraging employees to withhold their services over health and safety violations, faced a walkout by some employees yesterday.
About 14 PSA employees, represented by the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), refused to work yesterday amid complaints of improper bathroom facilities, lack of an emergency exit, no fire certificates and other Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) violations.The 14 employees were moved from the PSA's main building on Abercromby Street to a smaller building next door, also owned by the union.
Employees started at the new building yesterday morning."This building, the first floor is a wooden floor and it feels unsafe. The washroom is difficult for one of the employees who is in a wheelchair to enter. The corridor is a space of three feet," Francis said.He said there was an electrical issue, no fire alarm, exposed wires and that there was no fire certificate."These two buildings will not pass an inspection."
Employees, who were afraid to be victimised and withheld their names, said they had raised the issues with Duke before."Since 2010 when he came into office, he promised us that he would address the issues. We tried to be patient but it has gone on too long now. Something must be done."
DUKE: FRIVOLOUS COMPLAINTS
In an interview yesterday, Duke said the complaints being made were frivolous and were an attempt by BIGWU to engage the PSA in frivolity."What they are talking about is frivolous. Ceiling tiles falling down, that is nothing," Duke said.He said BIGWU was trying to destroy the PSA and questioned whether the employees were trying to be vexatious. "They want us to spend money that we do not have."
Duke said he had received no official complaints from either the union or the employees but did not object to working on the situation."I am a stickler for health and safety. We have already started working on the issues."He said the employees were moved so that the PSA could rent out the first floor of its building in order to monetise the PSA's assets as mandated by its members.