Government trash troubles delay garbage pickups

A staff dispute concerning overtime pay and difficulties with operating some of the government’s garbage trucks have led to delays in trash collection and recommendations for an internal audit at Cayman’s Department of Environmental Health.

On Nov. 24, the department issued a press release apologizing to residents for delays in garbage collection “over the past week.” However, delays persisted beyond that date and the government noted they had been caused “by unavailability of some of the garbage collection trucks.”

Questions from the Compass to the Department of Environmental Health concerning the garbage trucks were not answered by press time.

On Thursday, Ministry of Health Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn did confirm there had been “an escalation” of overtime at the Department of Environmental Health within the past 18 months.

“The ministry has asked for [the] Internal Audit [Service] to look at the situation,” Ms. Ahearn said. “There are no funds unaccounted for at Department of Environmental Health.”

Internal Audit Unit Manager Andy Bonner said officials were still “scoping” the review requested by the ministry. “But it certainly focuses on overtime pay at Environmental Health,” Mr. Bonner said.

The department did apparently change earlier policies in the doling out of overtime assignments, that led to employees’ concerns last month. The ministry denied that any landfill workers had gone “on strike” because of those changes.

“The situation that has been brought to your attention is a pre-approval process for overtime which is really a best-practice standard operating procedure for most organizations,” Ms. Ahearn said. “There is a need for the Department of Environmental Health to be more judicious with their use of overtime in the coming months as we are approaching financial year-end and, as is the usual situation, tight budgets are becoming increasingly tighter and need to be carefully managed.”