Monday 30 March, 2020

Supreme Court staff ordered to stay off job

Based on a directive from their representative union, staff of the Supreme Court will not be returning to work for at least another week.  

On Monday, staff met with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) where they were given the instruction to stay clear of the Whitepark Road complex.  

It was roughly two weeks ago when employees first walked off the job citing a number of environmental complaints, such as mold and dust, as compromising their health. On Friday last week during a press briefing, Chief Justice, Sir Marston Gibson said the courts will continue the work in spaces that had since been 'remediated'.  

Court Registrar, Barbara Cooke-Alleyne had said regular business hours were to resume on Monday April 23 with new hours of operation in some departments.  

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However, General Secretary of the NUPW, Roslyn Smith said there was no contact from court officials to provide the union with updated information.  

"Since our meeting and the decision there was no contact by the Registrar or the Chief Justice. I was a bit disappointed at that level of behaviour coming from two top public officers." 

Smith said the union has instructed the workers not to report back to work at the Supreme Court complex until the environmental issues are fully resolved.  

"We asked the workers to clear the desks of their belonging and they will not report back for work. They said two weeks for the cleaning so by next week there should be more or less a progress report on the CLICO building.  

...To me having the workers prolonged here in the building is only pushing back the movement further because all the files here have to cleaned before they are moved to any building." 

President of the NUPW, Akanni McDowall said the union will be awaiting the results of the environmental study being conducted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) before they advise their members further.  

"We are in need of information from the 2013 environmental assessment before we can advise our workers on the course of action that they should take. The environmental assessment will tell us exactly what we should be looking for and what course of action should be taken."  

Smith also said the union will be fully investigating claims that workers who refuse to enter the building are being threatened with transfers to other government departments.  

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