Staff still not back at post office

The post office building on East Hill Street.

The post office building on East Hill Street.


Tribune Staff Reporter


DESPITE assurances from the government that “everything will be done” to remedy the many issues plaguing the East Hill Street building, employees at the “mould and rat infested” General Post Office have still not returned to work, more than one week after they began their protest.

In an interview with The Tribune, Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kingsley Ferguson admitted that the sit out has caused “a back-up” in mail but said the workers cannot continue to put their health at risk.

Mr Ferguson said mail has piled up as far back as April and at this point, until the issues are solved, no one will receive or deliver mail from that location.

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

Dozens of employees demonstrated in front of Parliament last Wednesday, 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.

Rat infestation, heat from a broken air-conditioner and alleged rashes from handling mail are just a few of the problems the workers are protesting.

“The workers are still out and will continue to be out until the mould and air-conditioning stuff gets sorted out. They are not returning to work because we cannot put people in harm’s way,” Mr Ferguson said.

“We are not striking, we are just removing ourselves out of this hazardous situation. The persons are here and on site, they are just not going into the building until the situation is sorted out. Last week we spoke with the minister and he said the air-conditioning will be fixed by next week and all of the concerns about the mould and the rats will be sorted out in the coming weeks. So that means we will return in the coming weeks. The mail is piling up so no one is getting anything at this time.

“Persons came to get stuff and to drop off stuff, but nothing is being taken and the mail is backed up from April. So, there is an accumulation of mail that has not been sorted, but what can we do when people are getting sick? When the issues are fixed we will return.”

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.

In an interview outside Cabinet last Tuesday, Mr Campbell told reporters the government is aware of the situation and his ministry is “redoubling our efforts to ensure that Christmas cards are delivered on time.”

“We are advised that a part we were seeking for months is about a week away. It has been shipped, it’s in Florida and we are advised once it’s here, installation should take three to five days and that will resolve the air-condition and ventilation problems,” Mr Campbell said last week.

“The rodents, since I became the minister, I have sent the Environmental [Health] Department there and we will send them back. That is a continuous problem that is caused by our bad habits but they will go back and resolve that issue. Also there is a question of poor lighting in the general mail sorting area, so we will seek to remediate those pressing issues to make the place tolerable until such time as a permanent location is identified and addressed... In the meantime, we will address the urgent matters, we want them to know that help is on the way.”


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