Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) workers are the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 fight.
This declaration has come from Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde. He was speaking at the reopening of the recreational facility at the SSA’s Wildey, St. Michael depot on Friday.
Promising that their hard work would not go unnoticed, Mr. Forde gave workers the assurance that their complaints over medical insurance and some conditions of work would soon be addressed. One of their concerns includes the physical toll of lifting garbage cans onto the trucks to empty them.
“I know you had some complaints when I first came [to the Ministry] about medical insurance. I want to tell you that this part of your complaints will be addressed in the not too distant future. I also want to tell you that there was a concern about your physical wellbeing in terms of lifting those heavy cans.
“I want to say to you that there will be mechanised arms associated with the trucks so that you can have an ease in lifting those big heavy cans. So, all of those things we are looking at because our job is to protect you so that you can be the best that you can in this small country Barbados,” the Environment Minister stated.
Workers at the Wildey depot have also agitated for some time to have the recreational facility, now called the Christopher Griffith Recreational Hall after one of the SSA’s former general managers, upgraded. They received their wish late last year when it was refurbished in the space of three weeks.
However, they could not move in earlier this month due to restrictions. The reopening, which comes a few days before the start of the two-week national pause on Wednesday, February 3, is timely since SSA workers, who are essential workers, will be on the job during that period.
“When I came here during my infancy at the Ministry, I was saddened to see the facility that you had to call a recreational hall. I was ashamed to say this is where you eat, drink and have a form of social environment. It was not something I was pleased about. I told the General Manager, Ms. Jones, and the Chairman that this will be a thing of the past because you deserve better,” he emphasised.
He added that when people talked about the COVID-19 fight, they often envisioned doctors and nurses but he maintained that “without the work of the sanitation workers we would lose the fight against COVID-19”.
“You are on the frontline every single day, morning, noon and night. And today, I want to pay special homage to each and every one of you. I want to say thanks for the outstanding work from the bottom of my heart. You have done a great service to this country,” said Mr. Forde, who told the workers to take good care of the facility as they would their own homes.