Agriculture Ministry HQ is ‘a disaster waiting to happen’

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By Robert A Emmanuel

[email protected]

Public Service Association leaders are urging the government to relocate staff at the Ministry of Agriculture’s headquarters over what they described as a “disaster waiting to happen”.

Association President Joan Peters and General Secretary Janella Evanson spoke of a number of issues facing the department in recent weeks on yesterday’s Observer AM show.

“We would have observed that the concrete—as we would all agree that that building has been there before I was born since in the 1980s—is very poor and the steel has rotted … we saw in one picture a young lady escape a slab of concrete dropping onto her head up there,” Evanson stated.

About a dozen staff protested outside the ministry’s Independence Avenue building on November 4, expressing deep frustration over long-standing poor working conditions.

Issues such as musty odours, disorganised storage, a lack of water and unsanitary conditions in the bathroom were reported. Staff apparently requested permission to use alternative bathrooms in the building but were denied.

The association leaders also spoke of issues facing the registry department, including safety concerns due to electrical cords scattered throughout the area.

Meanwhile, workers at the Post Office are back on the job following days of being unable to work at their St John’s premises due to unsanitary conditions.

Peters said conditions there were “much improved”.

“Issues are still there to be looked at, so at the moment, they are back there temporarily until we find a house to put them so that the place can be repaired properly,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Evanson noted that workers at the Labour Department have even begun to dip into their own pockets to ensure a constant supply of drinking water at the office.

“I take the health and safety part of the public service very seriously and persons are dying very fast as we don’t know persons’ condition, so we need to ensure that we maintain the health and safety of our buildings for our workers,” she stated.

The government’s annual budget is expected to be delivered on December 15. Public sector workers have already been told by the Prime Minister they will receive a nine percent increase in their salaries.

However, the association claimed that the government has not been bargaining in good faith in stalled talks, leaving little room for negotiation.

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