Public Service Union to write Georgetown Public Hospital, Ministry of Health concerning nurses’ unrest

Last Updated on Monday, 28 September 2020, 19:33 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU)was Monday preparing to write to the management of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and the Ministry of Health.

GPSU General Secretary Mr. Kempton Alexander declined to disclose what are the intended actions of the GPSU to address the current impasse with the hospital administration and employees.

Insisting that the GPSU will issue a statement on the matter, Mr. Kempton stressed that the healthcare workers did not violate any laws because a notice of industrial action was issued some time ago. “Our action is legal because we would have issued an ultimatum to the relevant authority and soon- I think tomorrow (Tuesday) or the other day, we will be issuing a press conference to give you full details,” he said.

The nurses all want COVID-19 allowances, and adequate supplies of personal protective equipment. A number of the GPHC nurses say they also need to ensure they are paid pensions and gratuities. Government has allocated GYD$150 million to pay a risk allowance to frontline workers, but the nurses said all of them are at risk and should be paid

Mr. Alexander says that the union and the GPHC and ministry were engaged in talks following an ultimatum prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in March.

The last face to face meeting with the union and health officials on benefits, risk allowance and salary increases ended in a walk out by health officials. he said.  Mr. Alexander says the pandemic and a lengthy election process stalled talks however there were exchanges of letters.Those exchanges, he says, have yielded no results.

Nurses at several other government-owned hospitals and Berbice, and Demerara including Linden have also been protesting to press demands for similar benefits.

The GPHC is a semi-autonomous State-owned entity that is governed by a Board of Directors that is appointed by the Ministry of Health.

Guyana has now recorded more than 2,700 positive cases of the virus and in the last  eight weeks has recorded more than 50 covid related deaths with the total death toll now at 78.