The management of the state-run National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) has managed to avert a potentially dangerous situation over the Christmas and New Year holiday period as strike action was looming from the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU).
The hierarchy of the utility called a press conference last week to say thank you to those employees who showed up for work to man the entire system during the long holiday weekend.
TAWU had painted December red and dropped hints that it intended to take action on the issue of contract employment within NAWASA which was long outstanding.
The NAWASA officials told reporters that the weekend leading up to Christmas was as normal as any other weekend and no industrial action took place at any of its plants.
The senior staffers praised both the contract and permanent employees for going beyond the call of duty to ensure that there was a sustainable supply of water to customers during the Christmas period.
Assistant Manager of Transmission and Distribution, Ernest Bruno said the authority did not experience any “many problems” during the holidays.
“First what I should do is to commend the persons who were out – I can tell you that they did an awesome job.
I don’t want to single out any but maybe if I should just mention in the St. George’s area where there was what we call a task force. (The) task force is normally the crew that works after three and at night, that’s our emergency crew, and they did yeoman’s service during the period…”, he said.
Bruno added that there was little or no complaints from the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Patrick.
However, he said that an area known as Gretna Green in St. George did experience some water shortages and that was quickly addressed.
According to Bruno, the problem arose due to low water pressure and a fault with the pump.
“…As I speak now the situation (is) supposed to improve immensely,” he said.
Communications Supervisor, Jamila Samuel spoke highly of the plant operators who gave commitment to assist during the Christmas period.
Lewis said: “We have 27 water treatment plants and over that particular weekend we would have had 43 plant operators that would have manned those water systems, so it is fair to say that we had almost all plant operators – they check to ensure that the tank is full, they check to ensure that the system is functional so that persons are able to receive a supply.
“…On staff, we have 47 and we can verify that two of those plant operators are actually on vacation and they would have highlighted their commitment to come out to work if required. I think we need to commend as well the Plant operators who would have worked over the entire weekend to ensure that the systems were functional,” she said.
There has been no official word from TAWU, headed by Senator Andre Lewis on the failure of its “December Red” threat to NAWASA and other work places.
The union has reportedly been on the decline since the stand-off with the Grenada Breweries and its Trinidad owners which left it in financial straits.