Bag launches Red Foundation to give back Fire Service hit by sick-out bug
A MAJOR SICK-OUT is affecting the Barbados Fire Service, but Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is not raising any alarms over it.
Reports reaching the DAILY NATION told of a severe shortage of manpower following about 20 officers going on sick leave since last Friday.
The issue appears to stem from officers’ claims of being overworked as well as a rift with senior management.
Less than a month ago, Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard was in the media saying the Fire Service was not recruiting as it already had more than 200 officers and were about to embark on an auxiliary fire officer training programme.
A source in the department said yesterday that as a result of the shortage, office staff were trying to keep the stations running.
The source added that some officers had been working “38 to 48 hours straight”.
This was confirmed by Caswell Franklyn, industrial relations consultant for the Barbados Fire Service Association. He said while the service could not by law engage in industrial action, he was there to provide support and advice.
“About 20 fire officers out of each of the three shifts of 28 have been on certified sick leave (resulting in eight officers per shift for the entire island). Arch Hall had no one at all on Tuesday so staff from other stations had to be sent there, while a driver from Worthing had to be moved to another station.
“They have persons doubling up, tripling up and more. I know of at least one person who has been working for 52 hours straight. The men are burned out. They had men working overseas but [they were] expected to get back and get to work immediately,” he said.
However, Brathwaite told the DAILY NATION that while he was told there was an issue with sick leave, it had not compromised the work of the fire service.
“The fire chief told me all stations were up all this week. I am told there is some concern that 20 or so fire officers called in ill and I’m going to speak to the chief [again about that], but he assured me that our responsibility to our citizenry has not been reduced during the course of the week,” he added. ( CA) worked extensively with people in the diaspora who had been making contributions to Barbados.
“There are people out there who are willing to help us, and we need to show that we are willing to help ourselves,” the ten-time calypso monarch said.
$200 000 gift
One of the more recent contributions was a gift to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital of over $200 000 in equipment from the Barbados Tampa Bay Association whose president, Henderson Griffith, is a trustee of the association.
Bag said he decided it was “high time that I start my own foundation here, surround myself with great people so that I can make a significant contribution from this end.
“I came from very humble beginnings and I know what it is to struggle. I know what it is to have to share and from going around . . . I’ve recognised that so many people out there are in need of assistance. I think that this foundation is ready, willing and intends to work extremely hard to make a difference, to contribute,” he told the gathering.
He said he had made significant contributions to Sterling Children’s Home in St Philip over the years, and more people in need will benefit through the Red Foundation.
He said a number of local entertainers had already indicated their willingness to help the foundation fulfil its goals.
Chairman of the Red Foundation, hotelier Alvin Jemmott, said the foundation was set up as a way for Bag to give back, and to assist Barbadians in need and fellow entertainers who had fallen on hard times and pushing the boundaries of poverty. He said all requests for assistance would be evaluated by the committee and a decision made. ( YB)