NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Several air traffic controllers refused to go into the airport’s control tower yesterday after more than 14 weeks of walking up 185 stairs daily due to a malfunctioning elevator.
Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union President Hinsey McKenzie told Eyewitness News that his members were not on strike; however, they refused to continue risking their health and safety to get into the towers.
“Our elevator has been out of service from early April, to now 14 weeks. It was scheduled to be out of service for six weeks,” Hinsey said.
“I’ve been agitating to have that elevator installed. Its 185 [steps] of stairs to get into the towers, 13 stories.
“I’ve told them this is inhumane. You can’t expect people to go up those stairways every day.”
Hinsey explained that some of the air traffic controllers are workers over 60-years-old with varying ailments like knee and back pain.
He further noted that there is no valid inspection sticker in the elevator that reportedly last inspected in 2015.
The BATCU president said management has refused to address the issue to the union and has given no information on the way forward.
Additionally, he noted that the stairway that employees are forced to take is dusty, hot, and unbearable.
“People are suffering going up those stairs. It’s ridiculous… I told them not to use it and don’t walk the stairs until they address that issue. Fourteen weeks is too long to walk 185 steps in the heat. When you get upstairs you’re sweaty, you’re heated and you can’t catch your breath to go work.”
Hinsey, however, clarified that the refusal to take the stairs does not mean that his members are striking.
“Air traffic is not on strike. People have not seen what air traffic has been putting up with this management team for months. You begging them to fix things, they are not fixing anything…The management team is ridiculous.”
He said after employees refused to use the elevator yesterday morning, an official from the elevator company had to escort upstairs to ensure that the machine did not get stuck in between floors.
Hinsey added that there are similar issues with the lack of an elevator at the control tower in Grand Bahama – which took a beating during the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
“The situation is very deplorable,” he said.
“The bottom floor of that tower is washed away. They have no first floor. The elevator shaft is twisted, they can’t use the elevator
“They have to walk up seven stories to get up where they work and they’ve been complaining.”