As the first working day of the new year got underway yesterday, over 200 workers at the General Post Office staged a sit-in because, according to them, promises made in an agreement last November had not been kept. The understanding between the workers and the Public Works Department (PWD) after they had protested poor working conditions, was that they would be temporarily relocated until the problems at their workplace on lower High Street had been resolved.
Yesterday, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) Joan Peters told our newsroom that to date no word has come from the relevant authorities, despite the January 2nd deadline. “The Permanent Secretary has nothing to say. I mean, come on, they were supposed to look for a building for them to move into temporarily, so they were looking for buildings all around town. We even assisted them in some areas,” she said. “Places like where the old CIBC bank was, places like CTV, places like the Asot Michael building which is just up the road from them.
They even looked at the Bryson’s building, on the opposite side, the old Bryson’s … We don’t know if they acquired somewhere, you don’t know what is happening. Nobody is saying anything.” She added that conditions in outposts around the island also need to be improved. “Even the outposts…we did an extensive tour of the sub-stations and they are all government buildings that are … in a dilapidated state; it’s just so embarrassing,” the ABPSA president said.
Peters has however indicated that the sit-in will continue until some sort of action is taken by the PWD to rectify the problem. “I am not sure if a meeting would do it. They will have to start to do work so we see that something is being done, because what they are saying, workers would have to move out of the building in order to do the extensive work, but they were going to do the things they were able to do while they work half a day.
They would have gotten those done, so, by the time that they move out of the building, it wouldn’t take them a long time for them to move back, since they have already started the work, but they haven’t done anything at all and nobody has anything to say about what is being done.” It is well documented that the postal service has been plagued with many problems over the years. Last November, a leaking roof caused by heavy rain damaged some of the mail and also resulted in power being lost from the building.
A week later, workers at all government postal stations — to include Woods Centre, V.C. Bird International Airport, Nelson’s Dockyard, All Saints and Cedar Grove — joined their colleagues at the main branch in St. John’s to protest the poor working conditions