MONTEGO BAY, July 18, 2022 - The National Workers Union has served a 72 hour strike notice on the Management of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) as a result of what the union says is the refusal of the company to meet with the workers.
In a statement today, Assistant Island Supervisor Dexroy Martin said “over the last 7 months the National Workers Union has been trying to get the management of NSWMA to the table to discuss issues affecting the sanitation workers (colloquially known as sidemen).
“Up to the time of writing the management has not seen it important to meet with the workers and the union.
“The NWU has written on several occasions, management has insisted that the specific issues be enumerated in a letter before any meeting can take place. We have done that and we have followed up with reminders about the necessity of having these discussions.
“The company’s refusal to meet with the Union and our delegates has resulted in us having no choice but to issue this 72 hours’ notice of withdrawal of labour, the union said.
Martin outlined several matters which he said the workers are concerned about, and for which they have not been able to get any answers. These include:
1. NSWMA has installed a flexi week working arrangement in a unionized environment without discussion with the Union. Its implementation, in its current, form has made the worker worse off.
2. Workers have been deprived of proper gear and equipment needed to carry out their work safely and effectively. Gloves, sanitizer, disinfectant, bleach and other accouchement are not readily available. This results in workers carrying out their duties putting their health at increased risk.
3. Sanitation workers used to get out of town compensation (sometimes including meals) but while they are still scheduled to work out of town, no compensation has been given.
4. Several workers have been injured on the job but the company has either not provided any sort of assistance or assistance has been haphazard and seemingly preferential.
5. Sanitation workers are required to work overtime based on the work arrangements, however, they do not consistently receive compensation for the work done.
6. NSWMA has cut the number of days they work which has reduced their take home pay, especially in these harsh economic times. The company had promised to review and restore some of the time taken, in January, but up to now nothing has been forthcoming. This has resulted in the pay of some workers being reduced below their committed obligations. They also note that the Authority restored some of the working hours to drivers and other categories of workers but not the sanitation workers.
7. Salaries have been irregular for several months. The company has unofficially accepted that there was a problem in this regard, however, the problem remains and the salaries lost over the period have not been recovered.
8. The working conditions at the various bases across the island are deplorable. At several sites, a chance tree is the only shelter from the sun that employees have, they have to depend on the generosity of establishments in the vicinity of their base if they need to use a bathroom.
9. The lack of a pension plan
10. The fact that while the workers contribute to the NHT they are unlikely to benefit from the institution because of the insufficiency of their salaries.
These are simply a few of the challenges that the hard working sanitization workers are having and are unable to get any answers from management.
They continue to feel as if they are being treated as the refuse they are employed to clean up. They have decided that enough is enough and they need answers.