Protesting nurses of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) remained defiant in their quest for a range of benefits, despite a warning against abandoning their posts.
The nurses, backed by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) again protested outside Guyana’s primary health care institution to demand that government pays all of them COVID-19 risk allowances instead of only frontline workers. They also want adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The nurses are also calling on GPHC to pay increased salaries as well as regularise the status of a number of them to ensure they are eligible for pensions.
The nurses protested on Tuesday and plan to do so again on Wednesday, despite having been served with a strongly worded memorandum on Tuesday concerning their “abandonment of post” on Friday, September 25, 2020 and the participation in an “illegal protest” in and around the GPHC. They were warned that they would face disciplinary action if they continue to do so. “Management urges you to desist from such action. Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of your employment and the participation in further illegal protest will result in disciplinary actions being initiated against you,” GPHC’s Director of Human Resources Rohmena Chung told several nurses in the memo.
Ms. Chung informed the healthcare workers that their participation in the protest amounted to a violation of their terms of employment and the Public Utilities Undertaking and and Public Health Services Act.
General Secretary of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Nurse Kempton Alexander is on record as saying that the industrial unrest is legal as an ultimatum had been served several months ago when talks had broken down.
The nurses on Tuesday left their posts, walked out of the hospital and participated in a one-hour protest near the Georgetown Hospital.