TCI News

TCI: Firefighters stand strong, happy with meeting with Premier & Governor

#Providenciales, August 10, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – Eighteen firefighters from the Providenciales International Airport were on Friday able to have a one-hour meeting with the Governor, Premier and the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority, TCIAA which brought an amicable end to a 26-hour strike.

Twenty of the airport fire crew walked off the job on Thursday around 1:30 pm demanding better hours, fair compensation and an improved work site.

“We came to an agreement and everything is sorted out.”

Earlier in the day, the same firefighter was far less contented with his role at the fire station at the aerodrome.  He explained to Magnetic Media that the hours were exhaustingly long, which inhibited his alertness at work.  The young man said the conditions at the fire station were deplorable.  Broken toilet, broken faucet, broken air conditioning, broken stove and broken microwave for men and women who sometimes spent well over 12-hours on the job at the country’s busiest airline gateway.

There was also a problem with payment and calculation of overtime.

A meeting was held at 2 pm on Friday, we are told at the Employment Services office on Airport Road and included the Premier, Sharlene Robinson; who is also the minister responsible for airports and Governor, Nigel Dakin. 

Conroy Smith, deputy chairman of the TCIAA board of directors represented the Authority.

It was said that following the session, shifts are back to normal, there was agreement for the firefighters to be paid overtime and yesterday; Friday August 9, 2019 the team of 23 men and two women were due to receive a proper stove, working microwave and the second bathroom is to be fixed. 

The problem, said the firefighter speaking to Magnetic Media on the assurance of anonymity was “a lack of communication; they didn’t even know what we were dealing with.”

On the day news of the strike reached Magnetic Media, we tried to get a comment from the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority, TCIAA.  A reply did come from its CEO, John Smith; in an email he said: “The airport is functioning.”

However, our news organization was given a report contrary to Mr. Smith’s assessment of the situation at the Providenciales International Airport, PLS.

Magnetic Media was informed that some 20 fire fighters decided take strike action and left the airport on Thursday.  A skeleton crew remained, but it is said that team which stayed on duty was insufficient to take on the titan-sized British Airways flight.  Yet British Airways landed and left the PLS, thankfully without incident, but allegedly without the proper number of fire fighters on the ground.

More than 24-hours after an industrial dispute was activated with a ‘walk out’ by the firefighters, there continued to be no official comment on the matter from the managers of the airport, the TCIAA.

The better news is that the issue, is resolved and immediately following the meeting with the Premier and the Governor, firefighters returned to work to be joined by others.

Yesterday, flights at the Providenciales International Airport recorded hour-long delays and some flights were reportedly cancelled.

Fortunately, news of a return to ‘normal’ was on-time for the private airports like Provo Air Center, which confirmed that arrivals were almost but ultimately not interrupted by the industrial dispute.

The firefighter speaking to Magnetic Media said the workers were very pleased with the outcome, proud that they stood up for better conditions on the job and were grateful to secure an audience with not one, but two country leaders.



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