…..as Gov’t announces 2019 pay increases for sugar workers
Following the announcement by Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, that the Government has approved $200 M for 2019 pay increases for sugar workers, days after they were protesting for same, Region 10 officials and protesting nurses of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), have described their silent treatment as gross disrespect. It has been close to two months since nurses have been protesting for the removal of Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and for better working conditions and have not been given an audience with the Minister of Health or any other relevant authority on the matter.
Instead, nurses’ March salaries were deducted for absent days in 2018 and 2019 and they were sent letters informing them that further deductions will be made from the May salaries for days they were protesting on, in 2021. Speaking to INFO 10, nurses said what is most disappointing is that they have not been protesting for salary increases, but for the removal of what they deem as a disrespectful CEO who lacks management skills and better working conditions that would enable them to perform their duties more effectively.
One nurse who wished to remain anonymous, who has been protesting from day one, said the decision to answer to the call of the sugar workers and not to the nurses, shows that the current administration does not have their interest at heart and does not care about their demands. “Imagine we have been protesting for close to two months, no one from the Government, not one person has engaged us on our struggle. Minister Edghill and the Prime Minister were up here (in Linden) for another function and met with us only because we protested them. We expressed our struggle to them. We never heard back anything. We protested in front of the Ministry of Health, we have not heard from the Minister of Health, we have been in the hot sun day in, day out waiting for an answer, but just mere days after the sugar workers protested, their calls were answered.”
Another nurse said, “How can you feel appreciated when the very people who are supposed to lead and represent us are silent on our cries, but are answering the calls of another set or workers. Where is the equality? Where is the level playing field?” the nurse questioned. “We have been going above and beyond during the pandemic to serve the community, risking our lives and that of our family and this is the treatment we get,” she added.
Regional Chairman Deron Adams, in an invited comment said governments around the world are applauding the efforts of front-line workers, but he has accused the Government of Guyana for doing the opposite. “They are cutting nurses’ salaries, disrespecting our front-line workers, lied to them about giving them risk allowance and threatening to not renew their contracts. No government that claims to be genuinely concerned about the welfare of its citizens can act in such a manner. We need to make sure that the hard work being delivered by our health care workers continue to be recognized and properly remunerated,” Adams said.
Adams argued that while nurses at LHC have received $3000.00 for the month of March because they decided to stand up to a man who dragged their names and the profession they love through the mud by his comments, sugar workers are getting increases.
“I’m very much offended by the silence of the government on the issue with the nurses’ salaries. There’s a serious lack of basic drugs and resources at the Linden Hospital Complex. He has terminated the contracts of the ambulance brigade and other contractors who served over 20 years. The PPE and other sanitation measures that’s supposed to protect frontline workers is dismal … horrendous to say the least. This Government has launched an assault on the people of Region 10, while sugar workers got $200 million in just one week of protest action.”
The nurses vowed to continue protesting until their voices are heard and are calling on the community to join their struggle.
Meanwhile the Guyana Public Service Union has taken a decision to assist the nurses financially by establishing a Linden Nurses Fund. Industrial Relations Officer of GPSU Maurice Butters, said that the fund will be established at a commercial bank by the GPSU, but will be controlled by the nurses. The GPSU will make an initial contribution and public-private entities will also be invited to make contributions.