Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo

Staff of the National Employment Bureau (NEB) will temporarily operate from the Labour Department’s Offices in Warrens, St. Michael, while corrective action will be put in place to rectify air and water quality concerns at the NEB’s headquarters in the Old NIS Building on Fairchild Street.

Following a closed-door meeting with NEB workers, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, disclosed to the media, that while the original

plan is to vacate the building later this year, "effective today, until further notice" NEB employees would be temporarily housed at the Labour Department on the 2nd Floor of the Warrens Office Complex.

"We have removed the staff from the [Fairchild Street] building.?? Having met with the Ministry of Housing, we are aware that there is no other office to which we can relocate them in a permanent or semi-permanent way," she said.??

Dr. Byer Suckoo remarked, "We would not have planned to do work on the Fairchild Street building because every department [in the Old NIS Building] is going to be relocated sometime shortly…"

Acknowledging that employees were off the job yesterday because of unbearable working conditions, the Labour Minister added that her Ministry has decided to implement corrective action at the Fairchild Street building.

"Initially we were not thinking to do any major work in the NEB on Fairchild Street because we anticipate we would only be there for a few more weeks.?? However, the conditions being such as they are, and there is no place we can put [staff] until then, we have to do the work," she affirmed.

Confirming that the source of the offensive odour, which staff complained of, was caused by deteriorating wax ballasts in fluorescent lights, the Minister noted that electrical work and industrial cleaning would take place while NEB employees occupy the conference rooms and other areas of the Labour Department.

??"As we understand it, it is the old ballasts for the light fixtures in the building that have corroded and broken down that are now generating this odour and gas [that is emitted] through the air conditioning system… and causing the discomfort [such as] irritations, itching, sore throat and things like that," Dr. Byer Suckoo said, adding that the Old NIS Building was one of the oldest Government buildings in Barbados.?? It was built shortly after Independence.

Noting that the Government Electrical Engineering Department would be replacing the current wax ballasts with modern electrical ballasts, the Labour Minister pointed out that corrective work included the cleaning of the department’s air condition ducts and industrial cleaning of the entire building.

Speaking about the water quality concern raised by staff, Dr. Byer Suckoo explained that "the Barbados Water Authority had suggested that [this was caused by] a filter within the department…?? So that will also be addressed within the course of this week."

"It is hoped that workers would be able to return to more sanitary conditions at the Fairchild Street building next week," she declared.

In the meantime, a number of temporary changes would affect some of the services offered by NEB, due to its relocation. As a result, the public is advised that local employment services such as recruitment, counselling and r??sum?? assistance have been "scaled down" until further notice.????

However, those persons who wish to conduct business with the NEB related to its Overseas Employment Programmes, should call 310-1514 and 310-1519.??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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