Police were called in to ensure order at the Psychiatric Hospital this morning as just over a dozen staff nurses and general workers staged a short-lived protest sparked by the suspension of a colleague.
They were demanding the withdrawal of the suspension letter to Rudolph Dates, a hospital employee of 15 years, who was accused of breaching the Public Service Code of Discipline.
Upset protestors bore placards stating: Enough is Enough; Working 32 Extra Hours Monthly Without Pay; Respect is Earned, Not Demanded and Workers are Being Dismissed Through Personal Vendettas.
The demonstration, which began at around 8:30, was called off around three hours later following discussions with Caswell Franklyn, general secretary of the Unity Workers Union – their bargaining agent.
“They [the workers] met with me last week and I told them I would call Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins and try to get the matter resolved because the reasons for Dates’ suspension is nonsense. Dates was suspended with effect from September 30 for incidents that occurred over the last two years,” Franklyn explained.
“Under the Public Service Act, the director has 14 days in which to take action against an officer who is in breach of the Act. He decided to suspend Dates after two years. There are many problems at the hospital so this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Franklyn held an hour-long meeting with acting director of the Psychiatric Hospital David Leacock this morning, but did not reveal what was discussed. All he said was that he had been given the assurance that the issues raised would be investigated.
However, Dates’ suspension was not the only issue troubling the workers.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity, a concerned staff nurse alleged there are a number of other concerns at the institution.
“Can you believe that patients on the ward cannot get good potable water to drink during these hot days? They have to drink water from a broken faucet and then end up with diarrhea. Officials are speaking about removing the stigma attached to the institution yet they allow patients to live under these unhealthy conditions. “ the concerned staff nurse said.
Asked why more employees were not part of the protestor the nurse said: “There are many workers who would like to be out here with us but they fear victimization. These people have mortgages to pay, children to feed and car loans to service.
The acting director of the Psychiatric Hospital declined to comment on the situation.
The Unity Workers Union is due to hold a follow up meet with workers on Friday.
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