Problems at Solid Waste

All is not well at the state-owned Solid Waste Management Authority.

A well-placed official contacted THE NEW TODAY newspaper following last week’s issue which focused on the alleged misuse of the company’s credit card to facilitate an overseas trip by a prominent member of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution who is not known to be an employee of the state body.

The official made mention of the burning of documents belonging to the Financial Department of the authority in the wake of reports about certain alleged wrong-doing at Solid Waste.

He said that a few days ago documents from the department were sent up at the Landfill at Perseverance to be burnt and unusually a senior member of staff “came to supervise the burning”.

He described this as “strange” because the employees at the Landfill “always did (the) burning for finance many times before … not once he ever went up to the landfill to supervise the burning”.

“Why now an investigation is being held now a few days before burning took place – he went to supervise the burning?

The official also called for the use of the funds of the authority to be investigated as it was badly lacking in proper trucks and compressors among other things for the proper disposal of garbage.

He accused the management of Solid Waste of engaging in victimisation of workers stationed at the head office at the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) complex at the Frequente Industrial Park and the Landfill at Perseverance.

He made specific mention of Shop Stewards Kevon Clarke, Patricia Baker and Valerie Williams, and the authority’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Myrna Julien who are often getting rough treatment and being discriminated against by Management.

According to the official, a number of current workers are also often overlooked for existing positions that become vacant at Solid Waste.

He said that some employees who have been working for over 10 years and possess “the experience and qualify up to a certain level” are not given “a fair chance of being interviewed for the position”.

He spoke of Management turning down these staff members on the grounds that they are not qualified for the positions but the people who are given the jobs have “little or no background with experience in Solid Waste environment”.

The official charged that these new entrants into Solid Waste are being brought in by a particular member of the Management team and are doing some of the courses online while working with the authority.

“These same opportunities could have been given to the workers who have been working with the authority for years”, he remarked.

THE NEW TODAY was told that the authority was being used to give job letters to persons who are not employees.

The official gave an instance when an individual showed up at the Main Office at Frequente to get such a letter.

He said: “There were several young men that I had the opportunity to see while I was at main office. There was one in particular that came to the Secretary asking to see (name withheld). The Secretary then asked him what is the reason – is it something she can help him with he said yes he is here to collect a job letter.

“She said ok. She asked him his name he responded. She (phoned) (name withheld) at her office letting her know that the young man is here to see her (and) she said send him up.

“While that young man went upstairs to see her, the Secretary asked another staff member if he ever worked at the Landfill and she said no, not at all. The person also said we had never trained him. I heard that myself.

The senior official also made mention of the strike called last year by the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) at Solid Waste for better working conditions for employees.

“Well my friend that industrial action should (have) never taken place because before the general elections, the Prime Minister gave clear instructions to the board to resolve all outstanding industrial relations with the company and the union”, he said.

According to the official, the board did give the instructions but it was ignored and not carried out by management.

The source also brought to the attention of THE NEW TODAY instances in which Solid Waste employees are not being treated fairly for training courses.

He referred specifically to a training seminar that the Public Relations Officer had recommended for a certain worker to better enhance his skills which was made available by China.

He said the worker was allegedly rejected on the grounds that he is not qualified to attend and the opportunity was given to someone else from a government ministry instead.

The senior official also raised concerns about several other issues at Solid Waste including:

*The award of the street cleaning contract for St Patrick’s.

*The reasons for the dismissal of Kent Linton, the former Project Co-ordinator for a project from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

*The real reason why Claudius Hyacinth was forced to retire two weeks before his due date while he was on vacation.

*The dismissal of Junior Thomas, a Landfill heavy equipment tractor operator and the refusal of Management to rehire him as advised by the Labour Commissioner.

*The award of the contract to St Andrew Island Supply Ltd.

THE NEW TODAY has submitted a comprehensive list of all the allegations made against the state body to its Board Chairman, Dr. Bert Brathwaite for his attention and response.

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