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‘No idea when you’ll get mail’

The post office building on East Hill Street.

The post office building on East Hill Street.

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kingsley Ferguson said yesterday he “has no idea” how people will receive their mail this week after employees at the General Post Office on East Hill Street protested for the third day running.

Mr Ferguson said it is not the union’s intention to “cause the public to suffer” but said workers have to do what is necessary to protect themselves. 

Transport and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell told parliamentarians yesterday 17 islands will not receive their mail this week due to the workers’ strike. However, he urged members of the public not to “judge” the post office workers despite their “calculated mission”.

“They are getting the attention they deserve and I am satisfied that we should not be so quick to judge them, notwithstanding the fact that some 17 islands this week will not get the mail bag,” he said.

“But they know those people in the 17 islands, they are their cousins and their aunties. The people at the post office know that their actions are affecting their cousins in the islands so this is a calculated assignment or mission they are on. I want them to know that we are doing everything to bring the relief necessary to them in the shortest possible time.”

Dozens of employees at the “rat and mould infested” General Post Office demonstrated in front of Parliament yesterday, after days of protesting on East Hill Street, demanding the government either make the building habitable or move them immediately.

Mr Ferguson said the workers will not return to work despite a promise from the government that a resolution to the crisis is on the way.

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 become progressively worse and despite employees only working half days, many of them have reportedly developed respiratory issues because of the toxic environment.

“I spoke with the minister outside of Parliament and he told me that he understands we are doing what we have to do. We just want a building that is safe and healthy for persons to work in,” Mr Ferguson said on yesterday.

“It’s not the union’s intention to cause the public to suffer as a result of the demonstration but we have to do what we have to do what protect the persons working in the building. So the employees will go to work to every morning they just will not go inside the building. You cannot have people in there. I walked in there and my nose burned and my eyes hurt. You can look at these persons and see they are not well. I really cannot tell you when persons will get their mail. Unless they bring alternative staff, I really can’t tell you what will happen. I am going to reach out to them again this after to get a more definitive position as to what he government will do to address the concerns. Let them bring their office down here and let us go to the prime minster’s office. That is a solution, he is a doctor so he will know what to do when people get sick.”

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 it was approved without due diligence. The government is now eyeing several alternate sites for the post office’s relocation.

Comments

Sickened 6 years, 8 months ago

Demolish that building. What a disgrace.

DaGoobs 6 years, 8 months ago

Demolished the Post Office building and replace it with what? I've said in these columns before that the Government owns a number of buildings and complexes in the East Hill Street/Parliament Street area that are in various stages of decay. Yes, a decision needs to be made about what to do with the Main Post Office Building but it is not alone. The Government also needs to decide what to do with the Rodney Bain Building on the the corner of Parliament and Shirley Streets, plus the Royal Victoria Gardens complex which has pretty much been abandoned except for the car park after all of the courts there moved to South Street. You also have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building just east of Government House that probably needs maintenance work, to say nothing of Government House itself. This is a lot of valuable real estate just sitting around in various states of need for repair. What is going to be done with any or all of them?

Sickened 6 years, 8 months ago

"needs repair". Please! you don't repair a rotted, hazardous building - you demolish it!

sealice 6 years, 8 months ago

Come on - it's always been like that here, saying it now like it's something new.... Bahamian population in general has always felt that they have no idea when the mail ga reach!!!

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