– might withdraw services; colleagues promise industrial action
By Zena Henry
The Christmas holiday has come and gone, but municipal nurses Shandra Hanover and Sharon Chase are still to be paid their five-month salary following their employment to deliver medical services to health facilities managed by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC).
The nurses launched protest action at City Hall earlier in the month, demanding the money owed to them. However, it appears as though the medical veterans might have to withdraw their services because today the year 2014 ends and they still have not been paid.
This means that vital medical services in less fortunate communities such as Albouystown, La Penitence and such places will have to be withdrawn, especially since the nurses’ colleagues have promised industrial action in solidarity with their fellow workers.
Kaieteur News was told that the payments for the nurses have been approved, but the signature of acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba is required so that it could be paid out. The matter has also reached the attention of Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker, but according to information, the Minister has written City Hall saying that he is not aware of any information proving the hiring of the nurses.
According to Minister Whittaker, he perused the minutes of the Council’s statutory meeting and could not find where the Council approved the employment of the nurses. However in a correspondence to the Minister, Mayor Hamilton Green requested that he indicate who would have provided him with the information, since he claimed that “it is a habit of Ms. Sooba to alter and adjust the records of proceedings of our (statutory) meetings.”
However, the information provided to the Minister by the Mayor declared that on July 28, 2014, the items up for discussion involved the early retirement of nurses and whether there were replacements for them. It was Councillor Devi Ross who had posed the question on whether the Council was filling vacancies in the nursing positions; stating that pregnant women and children were at the mercy of just two nurses at the clinic.
Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green as the Chairman of the Personnel and Training Committee reported that 135 advertisements were placed and following interviews, three persons were to be employed; Ms. Sharon Chase (no relation to her) and the re-employment of Ms. Sandra Hanover as Midwife and Ms. Veronica Chisholm. She said there are only three nurses operating at Maternal and Child Welfare Department and when the Nurses are finished attending to over ninety mothers at South Road Clinic they have to conduct the same operation at the Albouystown Clinic.
As it relates to payment, it was pointed out that the Minister was provided with information which said, that payment for the nurses was approved by the Full Council since October 27, 2014, and a motion was passed for the payments to be made by October 31.
On November 24, when the question was asked at another Full Council meeting about the nurses’ payments, the minutes quote Sooba as saying that the matter was still with Minister Whittaker.
The matter was taken however, to the Ministry of Labour since October, and while the women were advised to stay on the job, there has been no intervention by that agency.
The Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU) President Dale Beresford had said that the nurses were hoping to receive their monies before year end, and if not they might have to withdraw their services. He said that other nurses who are quite concerned about the happenings are also contemplating to down tools in solidarity.
Hanover had told Kaieteur News that she has been in the medical profession since 1981. The senior nurse said she had earlier retired from the post as midwife, but had returned to the job given the shortage of nurses. Chase said she too had started out in the medical profession since 1987, but had worked with various medical agencies in different capacities, until joining the municipal facility.
The women were worried that they would not be able to bring Christmas cheer to their families, while expressing bills backing up at home.
They were joined by their colleagues during the lunch time hour on December 18 to protest Sooba’s office. When the media sought a comment on the matter, her personal bodyguard said she was not available. The nurses are stationed in areas that service mainly depressed communities.
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