Staff at the All Saints Magistrate’s Court are the latest set of government workers complaining about conditions at the building where they perform their duties.
The building houses the court, the All Saints Police Station and police barracks.
Members of the group said if repairs and proper cleaning are not done soon, the staff are likely to start working half-day like those at the St. John’s Magistrates Court have been doing since last week.
Like their colleagues in St John’s, the workers at All Saints are faced with a leaking building, non-functioning air condition, broken or damaged washrooms, and mosquito infestation, among other things.
The staff told OBSERVER media that these problems have been plaguing the court for nearly a decade.
“We can’t use the offices because vines are growing in the air conditioning and the bathroom fixtures need changing,” one worker indicated.
The employee also lamented that the building is not being cleaned properly and that the cleaning is not consistent.
OBSERVER media was also told that for those who work specifically in the court, the conditions are so poor they can only toil for a few hours before it becomes unbearable.
“When they go to court it is from vehicle to courtroom, and when they are finished it is vehicle back to town … Lord help them if they have to go to the washroom while at the court,” the worker indicated.
Court staff confirmed this, while adding that on more than one occasion assessments were made to determine the extent of the problem and what needs to be done to fix it.
But, according to staff, several months after the last such assessment, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, which is responsible for the court, has done nothing to make the situation better.
Last week the staff at the St. John’s Magistrates Court stopped working a full day because of poor conditions such as mould, a leaking roof and broken tiles, among other issues.
They are putting in half the normal hours, with some offices closing at 11 a.m. and others at noon.
This has already begun to impact civil matters and traffic cases, which are usually done in the afternoon by two magistrates who also conduct court in the morning. No timeline has been given for the resumption of regular working hours.
Staff reported being told they will remain on the shortened shift until they move to a new building, yet to be identified.
Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said repairs will start once the budget is approved. The 2019 Budget Presentation is scheduled for January 17.