Some good news for employees of the St. Lucia Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) as they are expected to receive a 10 percent increase in their salary.
Following 10 months of discussions with the company, the bargaining agent for the workers, National Workers Union (NWU), was able to negotiate not only salary increases, but also fringe benefits and improved working conditions on behalf of the employees.
Over 300 employees at WASCO are represented by the NWU, however, all monthly and fortnightly paid employees will be eligible for the increase and other benefits. The NWU will meet with the company next week to draft the new agreement, which is expected to be signed within the next two weeks.
Even as the company has agreed to the increase it continues to face serious economic problems. At one point there was talk of the possible privatization of the company.
WASCO is in dire need of upgrading its water distribution system and is in serious debt; the company currently has 16,454 out of a total of 60,168 customer that are inactive or disconnected and are therefore not being billed. This amounts to $14.66 million. Of this amount, $10.26 million constitute accumulated arrears for the northern networks and $4.40 million for the southern networks.
However, during his budget address, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony announced that an amnesty to customers with illegal connections but with existing WASCO accounts, illegal connections but no WASCO accounts; and and those that are being charged for a water supply that they infrequently or rarely receive.