Six councillors walked out shortly after lunch yesterday from the statutory meeting of the Region Ten Regional Democratic Council, protesting unsatisfactory working conditions that exist in the building of the Region’s administrative office.
Shortly after lunch at yesterday’s statutory meeting, RDC Councillor Leslie Gonsalves raised the issue of an obnoxious smell that has been affecting the workers on the ground floor of the Region’s administrative building for a protracted period.
Gonsalves requested that the meeting be adjourned so that the entire council could view and smell first-hand the suspected cause of the stench – a septic tank close to the office within the RDC compound.
A number of councillors including the RDC Chair-man Sharma Solomon, Charles Sampson and Audwin Rutherford said there was no need to adjourn the meeting since the matter was well known.
Gonsalves said that apart from his concern for the workers of the Region’s administration as a RDC Councillor, he is the President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress and he was taking the matter seriously as an industrial issue.
Gonsalves further stated that he would no longer discuss the matter at the level of the RDC since he has been raising the issue for over six months. He then walked out of the meeting. Councillor Sampson also expressed his disgust at the obnoxious smell and also asked to be excused from the meeting.
When the standing order was suspended for clerk of council, Youlanda Hilliman to report on the matter, she said that several contractors had been called in to remedy the situation but the problem of the foul smell persists.
Regional Chairman Solomon said that while the RDC councillors empathize with the region’s workers, they should show more resolve as workers by having their union pick up the matter even if it would need stern action to have the matter resolved.
Subsequently, Council-lor Gregory Parkinson expressed discomfort at the stench and said that he would try to bear it for ten more minutes. Parkinson, Douglas Gittens, Rutherford and Frank Carew subsequently walked out during an electrical blackout.
Ironically, the electrical outage occurred when the councillors were discussing the recent spate of electrical outages that have been occurring within the town.
According to Carew the uncomfortable situation was compounded by the darkness and increased heat in the RDC Boardroom since the back up generator could not be started. It was disclosed that the persons delegated for such a task were not at the Regional Office at the time.
Carew said that the windows of the boardroom had to be opened, allowing for intensifying of the nauseous smell. However, the electricity returned within half an hour but the four councillors did not return to the meeting.