City Corporation workers protest
By STACY MOORE Wednesday, April 9 2014
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ON-THE-SPOT: San Fernando's Mayor Kazim Hosein stands in the tool room of the San Fernando City Corporation on Carib Street, San Fernando, while worke...
SAN FERNANDO City Corporation daily paid workers yesterday downed tools in protest of deplorable working conditions they have been enduring for years at the corporation’s complex along Carib Street, San Fernando.
The workers yesterday said for far too long they have suffered working in the complex’s dilapidated building. The workers chanted in song, calling on the corporation’s chief executive officer (CEO), Indarjit Singh, to come out of hiding and meet with them. The CEO failed to show at the compound.
However, within minutes workers received an immediate audience with San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein who made a detour from attending a council meeting, and instead turned up at the city complex worksite to hear the concerns of workers. For the past 20 years the complex has been in a dilapidated condition..
Spokesperson for the workers, General Secretary of the Contractors General Workers Union, Ermine De Bique-Meade said that workers were fed up, and decided to take a stand.
De Bique-Meade said that since the existence of the complex, yesterday was the first time a mayor and council members visited the site..
“It is like they do not care about the workers here. And the jobs of all these workers are important, so why are they being treated in this manner?” De Bique-Meade questioned.
Protesting workers comprised sanitation workers, watchmen, plumbers, welders, mechanics, drivers and other categories. “It was 20 years now that the soil was turned for the construction of this building to house daily paid workers of Carib Street. Work on other buildings have started and completed, but they have been playing games with the daily paid workers. But I want to ask how can workers produce when they are not comfortable,” De Bique-Meade said.
Two years ago officials of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OSHA) declared the building “unfit for work.”
De Bique-Meade said many times water floods the compound on mornings and other times there is no water to drink, or use the toilet facilities. “Workers said that enough was enough.”she said.
De Bique-Meade said that management had refused to keep their promises, and instead, are treating workers unfairly. De Bique-Meade also said she felt a sense of hope yesterday on seeing a mayor on the compound for the first time. “This is the first mayor that saw it fit to postpone his meeting, and listen to the plight of workers which we are grateful for,” she said.
De Bique-Meade said that they would give the corporation one week to see to how plans unfold.
Speaking to reporters after touring the building, the mayor spoke of plans to move a motion of immediate effect to start work on the building. Hosein said when he took up office in November, he asked for a report on the building, but has been getting the run around, he admitted. “I have assessed the building, and this is a disaster waiting to happen.
Mayor Hosein added, “I want to assure workers that I don’t just talk, I act. These matters would be dealt with urgently,” the mayor assured.
Following report of the assessment of the building, Hosein promised that work would begin today.
Also accompanying the mayor were councillors Shaka Joseph, Rondell Donawa, Robert Parris, Bishop Jankee Raghunanan and others. Newsday attempted to contact the CEO Indarjit Singh at the San Fernando City Corporation, but was told that he was in a meeting.