Sep 27, 2012 News
Several staff members of the Linden Hospital Complex yesterday staged a peaceful protest outside the old hospital compound to protest several issues affecting them. Chief among these issues is what they consider to be the unjustified cutting of gratuity payments for maternity and sick leave.
According to the peeved workers if they go on one month maternity leave they lose three months of gratuity. For three months they lose six months’ gratuity payments.
“Is like we can’t get pregnant, or we ain’t suppose to get sick, because these people cutting we gratuity when get sick or go on maternity leave,” one nurse complained.
“Sometimes we ain’t getting no gratuity, depending on when your maternity leave fall. Take me. I ain’t get none, because I been on maternity leave,” another added.
It was also pointed out that one of the hospital maids who was shot during the recent protest, and subsequently had to proceed on sick leave, was only paid three months’ gratuity instead of the full six months.
“When we come off we have no pension to get, so why they cutting we gratuity? This is unfair, totally unfair”, was the common refrain.
At present health workers attached to the Linden Hospital complex are on a contractual arrangement, with the Ministry of Health, which sees them receiving gratuity payments every six months in lieu of a pension.
“The issue with the gratuity started since 2010. Before then it never used to happen.”
Representative for the Guyana Public Service Union, Maurice Butters, said, “Our position is that the management and Ministry are taking too long to resolve this matter pertaining to gratuity. The last time we met, a circular was given to us. It clearly outlined that gratuity would be paid in lieu of pension. Now if that is the case, why, for people going on maternity leave, must they lose three and six months in gratuity? You go on one month sick leave. You lose three months gratuity. Now why must that be, if you telling me gratuity is in lieu of pension.
Butters said that the matter could have been resolved years ago, because the workers were promised in 1996 that the hospital would have been corporatized, but the Georgetown Hospital was corporatized instead.
He acknowledged that in 2003, documents- draft legislation was done by the hospital and submitted to the Ministry of Health, to have the hospital corporatized.
The same thing was done for the health authority, but instead of bringing it to Linden it was taken to Berbice, Butters said.
Butters lamented that the Linden Hospital Complex was always being sidelined; And every year that the contract is issued there are changes, and that the changes are not for the betterment of the staff. “for too long we been on this contractual thing”, he declared.
He exhorted the staff, ‘to do what they had to do’ to get what they wanted, and to see that the matter is resolved once and for all.
There are also claims of understaffing of ward maids at the Linden Hospital., with the result that the workload is too much for the few maids currently working there.
Workers claimed that sometimes one maid has to clean an entire ward, which they said is too much for one person.
They claimed that for any given shift at least 12 maids are required to properly handle the workload.
Previously the hospital had about 24 maids, but at present there are only 19.
“When we had enough maids sometimes we used to get two maids to a ward, now most of the times we only get one. That cannot work; the work is too much for one person to handle. Is about five months now we working under stress.
The medical staff and maids receive a uniform allowance, but nurses claim that the $13,000 they receive per year is grossly inadequate. A pair of nurses’ shoes costs $18,000, they said.
Auxiliary staff complained that they also receive $13,000, which can only cover their uniforms, and cannot cover safety gear. The uniform allowance is supposed to cover safety gear, which is part of the uniform.
The Chairman of the Linden Hospital Board, who is also an employee of the Ministry of Health, travelled to Linden and later met with the administrators of the institution to discuss the issues.
According to Butters the Chairman would be presenting the issues to the Ministry of Health, and is expected to get back to them by next Wednesday.
The hospital employees have meanwhile vowed to continue their peaceful protest until all their grievances are dealt with to their satisfaction. (Enid Joaquin)
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