Minister of Labour and Social Security, Karl Samuda, says water has been restored “in great part”, and talks are continuing to resolve the issues that saw approximately 2,000 National Water Commission (NWC) workers walking off the job Tuesday morning, disrupting water supply across the country.
Samuda said this followed a meeting with union representatives at his North Street offices.
He gave the update while responding to a question from the Member of Parliament for St Catherine Southern, Fitz Jackson, on the motion for adjournment during Tuesday afternoon’s sitting of the House of Representatives.
“We convened a meeting and we discussed, with the unions, the matter and with the key players at the [National] Water Commission with a view to resolving the problem,” Samuda said.
NWC workers tell why they were protesting on Tuesday morning.
He acknowledged that it will require further consultations because there are still differences that will have to be resolved. The minister also promised to “keep the people of Jamaica apprised of the progress or the challenges that are being faced at this time”.
Samuda also expressed sympathies to all who were denied water supply and said, “we will do everything in our power to try to resolve the issue”. But, he noted that it has implications for the Ministry of Finance.
“As soon as we are able to put together a position that is acceptable, I will advise this honourable House and the people of Jamaica,” Samuda added.
At this stage, he was asked by Jackson whether the lock-offs were continuing until the matter was fully resolved.
Responding, Samuda said the situation could not have continued on a protracted basis “and I’m very pleased to advise that in great part…water has been restored”.
“We will, during the course of the negotiations, ensure that everything is done to have that flow of water on a continuous basis while we discuss the matter,” he said.
The workers walked off the job Tuesday morning in protest over an outstanding reclassification exercise and the ongoing public sector review.
The management of the State-owned utility said the industrial action was taken without notice.
Many parts of the country and institutions were affected by low, or no water throughout the course of the day.