February 21, 2024



Region 10 COVID-19 staffers’ contracts not renewed

-Personnel Department claims typographical error

Over 40 persons who were temporarily employed to serve in various capacities in the Regional Health Testing and Quarantine Unit, have not had their contracts renewed and the Regional Health Officer Dr. Gregory Harris, explained that approval was not granted by the Public Service Ministry to extend the six-months contract. Out of these however, 11 Ward Maids who were placed at the Upper-Demerara Hospital which housed the COVID-19 unit, believe they were cheated out of their agreement, since the employment correspondence cited, that the period of employment would have ended in January 2022. They were however contacted last Wednesday by the Personnel Department of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), and were told the 18months period that was stated on the letter, was actually a typographical error. They were then issued another correspondence, which was backdated to November 24th 2020 and stated that the work period should have ended at January 26th 2021.

The first correspondence that was issued to the Nurse Maids informing them that their work period will end in January 22

The Ward Maids, who were tasked with cleaning the COVID-19 facility, believe they were cheated out of the remainder of their agreement, which would have allowed them to be employed for nine months more. “We risked our lives for all these months and then to just be told it was a typo and we were to stop working since January, is very hard on us because we didn’t prepare to stop working right away like that, I am a single mother of four children, I would have at least prepared by self, knowing I would have come off next year January but now they are saying our contract end and that they don’t know when we will be paid for April and May,” one of the Ward Maids said.

The frustrated woman said she does not understand how a typo could occur on several letters and the mistake wasn’t realised when the contract supposedly should have ended. “If they claiming we contract was to end since January, how come we were still on until now and were paid for the January to March,” she reasoned. Another Ward Maid, said she only received her dismissal letter on Wednesday, which stated, ‘This letter serves to inform you that approval was not granted for the continuity of your employment within the Health Sector (Regional Health Testing and Quarantine Unit) of the Regional Democratic Council. The Regional Administration is aware that you lasted worked on May 11, 2021 and as such will be renumerated for the services rendered.”

The letter that backdated to November 2020, that was issued to the Ward Maid on May 12th, 2021 that states their contract ended in January 2021

The Ward Maids related to INFO 10, that when they queried about their April salary from their Supervisor, they were told by her, that she (the Supervisor), was instructed to not relay any information.

When contacted on the issue, Regional Health Officer Dr. Gregory Harris, explained that the workers have no legal binding agreement with the RDC or the Government and was categorized as temporary employees who worked on a month-to-month basis. While not touching on the typo error, Harris said that the workers signed no contract and as such were told that their contract had come to end.

He said that RDC sought extension but this was not granted. He acknowledged that the situation is unfortunate as over 40 persons are now on the bread line, but stressed that they were aware they were employed on a temporary basis. Harris reiterated that he did not fire anyone, as is being peddled.

The workers would have engaged the Department of Labour on the issue.

The situation would have angered regional officials who claim the regional health workers in the region is under attack. Commenting on the matter is Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira, who said more that ever, COVID-19 staff is needed in Linden, as there is a spike in cases. Figueira said he is also upset about the unprofessional way the Personnel Department handled the issue and are calling on the appointed officials to make representation for the workers’ contracts to be renewed. “The very way you could have wrote to them and say your contract has ended, you could have used the same energy to write to them and explain that the first letter was a mistake, but to just arbitrarily dismiss them like that knowing they had hopes of being employed until January, without caring how this will affect them, is unprofessional,” he argued.