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Feb 26, 1999

WASA workers get raise

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Water and Sewerage Authority employees are celebrating a successful negotiation for an increase in salary and other benefits. Over the next three years WASA employees will receive a fifteen percent raise as well as a very comprehensive medical package. Jacqueline Woods reports.

The collective bargaining agreement which took about six weeks to formalize was reached amicably among WASA’s union representatives, the authority’s management and government. Russel Young is the president of WASA’s working union.

Russel Young, President, WASA Union

“The outcome of the collective agreement as it pertains to employees is a satisfactory one for we have achieved most of our goals which includes but is not limited to job security, the promotion of health and safety, the encouragement of equal opportunity, the improvement of training and education, the establishment of a comprehensive medical scheme, the securing of a wages regulation and an increase in wages.”

The agreement, which will cost WASA 2.4 million dollars, will no doubt boost the morale of the workers. According to Maxwell Samuels, the Minister of Public Utilities not only will WASA’s employees stand to benefit but consumers themselves.

Maxwell Samuels, Minister of Public Utilities

“These conditions will encourage production and efficiency leading to lowers costs and eventually reduce rates for WASA’s consumers.

My ministry is serious about our pledge to ensure cheaper water, light and telephone rates throughout the country. We are also very serious about our pledge to form a Utilities Commission with broad based community participation to regulate public utility rates and protect users from abuse by monopoly utility companies.”

Much credit as well was given to the way all parties concerned conducted themselves during the negotiations. According to Ray Lightburn, WASA’s Chairman, in the past there would have been much confrontation in trying to settle a bargaining agreement.

Ray Lightburn, Chairman, WASA

“These people were able to sit down and agreed to disagree, agreeably and that is how this very historic agreement was reached.

Today we see perhaps one of the strongest unions in this country. Financially sound and membership sound, taking a responsible attitude towards negotiations.”

The two hundred and seventy three employees of WASA will now enjoy a comprehensive scheme to cover their medical, dental and visual expenses for each person and their dependents.

Leonardo Folgarait, Chief Executive Officer, WASA

“Also included in this package for local and international transportation for those affected, hospitalization, surgery and payments for preventative health procedures including annual mammograms and pap smear test for female employees and their dependents. Routine “well-baby” immunization for dependent children and proctology prostate examination for male employees and their dependents over forty years.

While we expect WASA’s employees to have strong nerves, this scheme also provides treatment for mental and nervous ailments and allows for treatment of AIDS, organ transplants and maternity benefits. Life insurance for the WASA staff and non-contributory pension scheme which we actually have afforded this time around with our union employees.”

According to Joan Anderson, the secretary of WASA’s working union, while they have had benefits in the past there was never a major medical plan.

Improvements will also be made in the physical working conditions of employees including enhanced safety procedures and uniforms. A scholarship fund for employees’ children is also being established in memory of WASA employee Denroy McCord who died a year ago.

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