By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
WORKERS at the East Hill Street General Post Office protested yesterday because of no air-conditioning and the presence of mould in the facility, Bahamas Public Services Union President Kimsley Ferguson said.
The demonstration, which involved about 60 workers, started yesterday morning.
When asked how long the protest will go on, Mr Ferguson said that would be decided today.
Working conditions at the General Post Office have long been a source of contention between BPSU and the government.
This latest issue stems from electrical problems in the building.
"There has recently been a challenge with the fact that the post office has been running off a generator…for over a month," Mr Ferguson told The Tribune.
The generator itself does not always work, he added.
"And so when the generator doesn't come on, there's no light in the post office. And (so) the workers cannot go in."
According to Mr Ferguson, even when the generator functions, it only has the ability to provide the building with light.
"It doesn't have the capacity to engage the air-conditioning system. And so it's excruciatingly hot in the building.
"From they started using the generator, the air-conditioning has not been on," he said.
The air-conditioner unit at the General Post Office was replaced on December 11, 2017. Transport and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell confirmed this to reporters on December 12.
Mr Ferguson also called for the health issues workers have experienced due to the presence of mould in the building to be classified as "industrial accidents".
"Also, at the same time, the challenge that we would have had with mould is it building up," Mr Ferguson said.
"That's accumulating all over again. And persons are getting sick in the building. And so we would have taken a position that we are not going into the building. We've been trying to get an update on the position for the new location.
"My concern is persons are getting ill, and it's a result of their working environment.
"And so once persons are getting ill, those ailments should be treated as industrial accidents, because they arise (due to) person's employment.
"And so we would have made an appeal to the minister of public service to see how we can assist staff members who need to see doctors because of respiratory issues, that some specific physicians are set aside so persons see these doctors and be properly looked after."
Mr Ferguson said it has been difficult for BPSU leaders to get a "seat at the table" regarding involvement in the move of the post office to a new location.
During his budget address last week, Mr Campbell apologised for the persistent problems at the East Hill Street building and announced that this facility will be imploded after the office has been moved.
The new General Post Office will be a multimillion dollar building on Gladstone Road, located at the site of the old Phil's grocery store.
"The good news for the public and the postal staff is that the General Post Office is now in possession of the keys to its new premises," Mr Campbell said last week.
"Efforts are underway to transform the building into a modernised, expanded postal facility, to the tune of an excess of $4m."
The new facility will have expanded express mail services, automated counter services, and expanded postal parcel services.
However, Mr Ferguson said this is old news.
"We continue to get the same story…regarding the building, that they now have physical possession of the building," he said yesterday.
"That's the same update that we have been receiving now for more than a month, two months.
"We need a little something more than that so that persons can be aware of or be satisfied that there's some progress being made, and that at some point, they would be relieved from the present state that they're working in."
Mr Ferguson added that union leaders have been "left out" of these discussions.
Mr Ferguson said workers do not know how much longer they will be working in the East Hill Street building.