Some State-employed street sweepers are arguing that the $6,000 they take home each fortnight is not enough to cover their basic needs.
The street sweepers, who hit the roads before the proverbial cock crows in the wee hours of the morning, are also disgruntled by what they claim is a discrepancy in the payment structure which sees some taking home more money than others.
An aged street sweeper, who asked not to be named, told our news team that while some workers take home $6,000 per fortnight, others take home $11,000 despite everyone mandated to work a minimum of four hours each day.
"When me buy medication me nun have no money left," the street sweeper bemoaned.
"The whole ah we working in this. We getting $6,000 but the ones downtown getting more than us. Me ah say bwoy that ah disadvantage," he added
But Shauna Guthrie, community relations manager at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), told The Sunday Gleaner that the agency was not aware of any wage discrepancy.
"We are not aware of these allegations. All sweepers are paid in keeping with the minimum wage and for the total hours worked," she said.
However, the NSWMA was not immediately able to say if any of its street sweepers work less than 40 hours per week and as a result are paid below the minimum wage of $4,500.
When asked if the agency believes the current level of remuneration to street sweepers should be increased, Guthrie said: "We believe that we can never adequately compensate our team members for the job that they do every day to keep the society free of disease."
The NSWMA community relations manager also underscored the importance of the street sweepers to the authority's mandate.
"Part of our mandate is to maintain the general aesthetics of roads, verges, median strips and major parks through public cleansing activities which include sweeping. Our sweepers are not only essential to the day-to-day operations but contribute to our overall success.
"The contribution of the sweepers is evident daily when the average person traverses the streets and the streets are clean or not clean. Imagine downtown (Kingston) after one day if no sweeping takes place in the evening or early the next morning," said Guthrie.
Come September the minimum wage will be increased to $5,000 so street sweepers should see an increase in their pay.