Hurst: Government cannot meet workers’ demands

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Lionel “Max” Hurst, chief of staff, said the government is not immediately in a position to meet the demand of its protesting housing construction workers.
On Thursday, protesting workers at the government’s housing construction site in Denfield, Cooks walked off the job demanding pay increases they said they have been promised for three years.
Over 70 workers including masons, carpenters, steel benders, electricians and plumbers, employed by the National Housing Development and Urban Renewal Company Ltd., took their grievance directly to the administrative office at Dredge Bay.
However, Hurst told OBSERVER media yesterday that the workers’ demands for a raise before the houses are sold, is an unreasonable request.
“It kind of hard that you would give an increase while the houses are still being built. I can see that at the end of the process when the houses are completed and sold that, if not an increase, some sort of honorarium, and I think the prime minister addressed this at the opening at Dredge Bay,” Hurst said.
Protest action continued yesterday, and workers said they will not continue to work unless a resolution is met about their demands for salary increases, better equipment, clean water to wash their face and hands, their vacation pay upfront and working conditions.
“Everybody deserves an increase, I suppose, but had we completed the homes and sold several of them then it would seem a little more reasonable than not completing the houses at all. And any increase that the 150 workers there might receive must also apply to the 150 workers at Paynters,” Hurst added.
Yesterday, Hilboy “Steel” Smith, said nothing has changed about the workers’ stance.
“They came in and everybody is on a go-slow. Everybody is sitting around and waiting to see what would happen and we haven’t gotten any word from the office or anybody from the administration. We are at work but we are not working, and we intend to do this until action is taken,” Smith said.
He said the workers have not ruled out taking their plight to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
When contacted, Bernard Gardner, the general manager, declined to speak with OBSERVER media.

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