The island’s main hospital could be hit by protests early in the New Yea if management of the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) proceeds with plans to “unilaterally” implement a 24-hour shift system within the pathology department on January 1.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said it was not opposed to the move but insisted that there needed to be full consultation before the system was implemented.
Union spokeswoman Natalie Murray explained that while the proposal to restructure the pathology department had been on the cards for a while, discussions only started between the union and management in February.
Subsequently, she said workers in the laboratory had come up with a proposal, which they submitted to management.
“However, since that meeting, we would have written several pieces of correspondence to the hospital on the 22nd of February, the 17th of June, the 21st of October, the 30th of October . . . [but] to date we got no response from the hospital with respect to acknowledgement of our correspondence,” Murray said.
She also noted that a meeting was held in November where it was proposed to staff that the management would like to start a pilot project with respect to the 24-hour system. In response, the union spokeswoman said staff had indicated to management that they wanted discussions to held with their union.
“To date, that discussion never came to fruition,” the QEH field officer stressed.
However, she reported that a meeting was called by the hospital’s management this morning to inform staff that the system would start on January 1.
“If the management goes ahead with the January 1 deadline, we would be looking at industrial action,” Murray warned, noting that there were several issues, including health and safety and remuneration that needed to be addressed.
In the meantime, Government workers, whose two-year secondment is coming to an end, have been given until January 15 to sign on to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
However, the NUPW today issued firm instructions to its members there, not to sign the option form indicating their willingness to accept long-term employment with the BRA.
NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith said she had written to the BRA Commissioner Margaret Sivers asking her to suspend the distribution of the option forms until the terms and conditions of service were discussed and finalized.
“We wrote them requesting that they defer the option forms until we can sit and finalize the terms and conditions that obviously the workers would have to be satisfied with before making any decision to transition to the Barbados Revenue Authority,” Smith told Barbados TODAY, while expressing optimism that there would a meeting of minds ahead of the deadline.