ZNS northern service workers protest “hazardous” working conditions

ZNS northern service workers protest “hazardous” working conditions
Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) President Dino Rolle. (FILE PHOTO)

NASAU, BAHAMAS – Some 40 workers at ZNS’ northern service have decided they can no longer work in alleged unsafe conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) President Dino Rolle told Eyewitness News he could no longer support operations at the Harold DeGregory government complex, which he claims sustained flooding damage.

Rolle cited widespread complaints of respiratory complications believed to be linked to the growth of mold in the building.

He said about 40 employees are prepared to not show up to work because of conditions.

BCB Chairman Mike Smith has confirmed testing and remediation for mildew and mold will be conducted on Sunday.

Smith said management will determine what changes need to be made for staff at the complex based on testing results.

“[Workers] have taken the decision that they don’t want to continue until such time as corrective measures are taken by the Broadcasting Corporation,” Rolle said.

“They don’t want to occupy that space as the other tenants have vacated the building long ago.

Rolle continued: “Some members over the past few weeks have experienced respiratory illnesses and that has been shared among other colleagues and so a decision was made, and this seemed to be ratcheting up among other staff with the symptoms of the mold present in the building.

“They have decided not to occupy that space until management decides to do the necessary corrective measures to remediate the presence of mold in that building.”

Several ZNS workers told Eyewitness News Online today that concerns also extend to perceived insensitivity to living conditions faced by employees post-storm.

Many employees in Grand Bahama lost their vehicles, and struggle with transportation and reported they are being asked to work flexi-time instead of reduced hours as suggested by union representatives.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Rolle insisted a looming mass sick-out did not represent industrial action, but demonstrated a consensus by staff to put their health first.

“They’re not walking off the job,” Rolle said.

“A number of them really are not in a position to report to work because of the symptoms they are experiencing as a result of being in that space.”

He added: “It’s not an industrial action, it’s really the staff looking out for their own health and safety.”

Rolle said the union has been advised of management’s plan to conduct testing for mould.

In the meantime,” he said, “my members are experiencing symptoms. They know their workstation were under water for a long period of time, a great portion of their areas is carpeted.

“I understand that Grand Bahama and Abaco would have just gone through one of the most devastating hurricanes that we experience in our lifetime, but that don’t mean in the wake of that my members would continue to have to expose themselves to hazardous areas.”

Rolle added: “I can’t agree for my members to continue operating as they have freely done over the past several weeks, but I think the time has come now for management to act.”