Labour and Social Security Minister, Karl Samuda, has said his comment in Parliament on Tuesday that water supplies had been restored in “large part” amid the ongoing negotiations with representatives of some 2,000 employees of the state-owned National Water Commission (NWC), was based on (bad) advice that he was given.
The minister admitted to his error at the start of Wednesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives shortly after 2pm.
While responding to a question from Member of Parliament (MP) for St Catherine Southern, Fitz Jackson, on the motion for adjournment during Tuesday afternoon’s sitting of the House, Samuda said water had been restored in large part across the country.
“I was made to believe, before making the statement (Tuesday), that there was an attempt at resumption, and that not all the water systems of the country were off. That has turned out not to be the case. But, when I made that statement, it was based on advice that I received,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.
Samuda acknowledged that the vast majority of the water systems across the country have been out of service since Tuesday “and up to now”.
He said either Prime Minister Andrew Holness or Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, will be making a statement “based on actions taken to ensure that some systems that are of critical importance, affecting sensitive areas of our country, are reopened, and access to them was made possible through the use of the security forces.”
The labour minister said discussions were reconvened at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security at 10am on Wednesday with the various parties as efforts continue to resolve the water supply issue.
He expressed confidence that there would soon be a breakthrough.
Workers at the water utility summarily walked off the job on Tuesday morning in protest at protracted delay in a job reclassification exercise involving them, and also reportedly concern about their perceived non-inclusion in the ongoing public sector salary review process.
Meanwhile, the ongoing strike is said to be affecting many critical institutions, including schools and hospitals.
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) were deployed on Wednesday to support available NWC personnel in restoring water supply to those critical institutions.