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Linden nurses get gratuities; probe launched into delay

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Nurses and other staff of the Linden Hospital Complex, who had gone on strike to protest the prolonged delay in the payment of their gratuities, on Thursday began receiving cash.

Though the workers had downed tools on Wednesday and many of them travelled to Georgetown to vent their grievance in front of Parliament Building during National Budget-related proceedings, Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran said the staffers were not on strike.

“Contrary to reports by APNU (A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) politician and MP Ms Vanessa Kissoon there was no strike at the Linden Hospital Complex,” he said in a statement. “The Minister would also like to express his sincere gratitude for the patience portrayed by the nurses and for not taking any precipitate, ill advised action.”

The 76 nurses and ancillary staff began receiving their GUY$6.6 million payout from around 4 PM Thursday. While several other workers- mainly senior staff had received their gratuities with their March 2013 salaries- the almost 80 other workers had to go without money that they had hoped to spend on preparations for the new school term.

“The nurses have been accessing their funds in the presence of the Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr Trevor Thomas,” said the Health Minister.

Ramsaran said he had tasked Thomas to look into the matter and has been in Linden since noon yesterday and has been in frequent communication with the affected nurses, updating them on the status on the process.

The Health Minister expressed regrets that the nurses had to suffer the avoidable hardship as a result of the administrative delay at the Linden Hospital Complex and undertook to put measures in place to prevent a recurrence.

GPSU Branch Chairman, Maurice Butters, maintaining that the workers were on strike on Wednesday and Thursday, said that the union was also successfully pressing for investigation into the delay in payments.

“They will be assessing the management policies at the Linden Hospital Complex where there is some amount of anarchy,” he said.

Butters said the LHC’s Chief Executive Officer has already begun receiving responses with the aim of determining who culpable, taking corrective action and avoiding a recurrence. Deputy Permanent Secretary Thomas has said that there appeared to have been a breakdown at the supervisory level, possibly due to changes in staff.

Representatives of the GPSU and the Ministry of Health are also expected to hold talks in the coming weeks to determine whether contracted employees should be paid gratuity for maternity leave, sick leave and approved absence from the job. The union believes that the workers should receive payments for those types of absence from the job.