By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
NEARLY 100 employees at the “rat and mould infested” General Post Office demonstrated on East Hill Street yesterday demanding the government either make the building habitable or move them immediately.
In an interview with The Tribune, Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kingsley Ferguson said the workers will demonstrate every day and “even march to Parliament if necessary” until someone pays attention to their concerns.
Earlier this year, then-BPSU President John Pinder threatened industrial action if the government did not immediately relocate employees from the “unsanitary” building. At the time, he said his members were forced to work in a mould infested building with rats, termites and a leaking ceiling.
Since then, Mr Ferguson said things have got progressively worse and despite employees only working half days, many of them have reportedly developed respiratory issues because of the toxic environment.
Despite nearly a year of shortened shifts and several meetings with the new government, Mr Ferguson said he has still has not been given a timeline for the relocation of staff and operations. He said however, the government has selected the former Phil’s Food Services building on Gladstone Road for the post office’s new location.
“They cannot work in this environment anymore,” Mr Ferguson said. “There is mould, leaking pipes and rats. People are getting sick and nearly a dozen employees have developed respiratory issues and have had to go to doctors.
“So we are demonstrating in an effort to get the attention of the relevant authorities and have our concerns addressed. We spoke with the minister and we did a tour of Phil’s and we were told that is where we are moving but we want to know what is going to happen in the interim. We have not got a moving date, so are we just supposed to stay in here? Are they going to make the Post Office liveable temporarily? So we will continue to be here on the sidewalk until we get some answers. We will demonstrate downtown if need to be to get the attention of the government.”
In October, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce CEO Edison Sumner said reduced operations at the General Post Office are negatively affecting businesses, adding the chamber sees “no end in sight” to the problem.
The Christie administration, through a public private partnership, gave the green light to a project to relocate the General Post Office to the Independence Drive Shopping Centre off Tonique Williams Darling Highway.
However, the Minnis administration has halted that project, expressing concerns that it was approved without due diligence.