Workers from WASA’s Pipeline Maintenance Department fix a leaking line along Independence Avenue, San Fernando, in May.

Thousands of jobs at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) may be in jeopardy next year since the 2021 Budget documents show that WASA’s personnel expenditure for next year has been cut to half of the 2020 figure, says the National Union of Government and Federated Workers.

NUFGW’s website posted the comment yesterday by NUGFW’s Gerry Kangalee.

This followed Budget 2021 statements by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on WASA indicating that a review of the public utility is being currently done and a report on the review will be completed next month.

Decisions are expected on WASA’s future thereafter.

Kangalee said while only eight lines were devoted to WASA in the Budget speech, “The devil is in the details.”

Kangaloo noted that a 2021 Budget document on draft estimates of expenditure and revenue for WASA in 2019 and 2020 also had estimated expenditure for 2021.

“Personnel expenditure for 2019 was $976.1 million, revised expenditure estimate for 2020 was $755.5 million and estimate for 2021 is $378 million. This means there is a projected decrease in personnel expenditure from the 2020 figure and personnel expenditure for 2021 is being slashed in half,” he said.

Kangalee added, “WASA employs approximately 5,100 permanent, temporary and so-called contract workers.”

“If personnel costs are to be reduced by 50 per cent it’s only logical to conclude that the workforce will be reduced by a similar margin.”

He stated that WASA management has told Parliament’s Public Accounts team that WASA is overstaffed by 2,000 workers.

Kangalee said Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) chairman James Lee Young also told a Parliament joint select team in March 2018 that WASA has a poor rating for efficiency and also claimed WASA had 12-13 employees per thousand connection while other companies have three to four.

Kangalee said, “This is a clear sign that when WASA applies for its rate increase ahead the RIC’s major consideration is going to be how many workers per connection does WASA have.”

NUGFW stated while the Public Utilities Minister has denied there will be massive WASA retrenchment, the union was concerned the workforce would be “decimated.