ST JOHN’S – Striking workers at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital have vowed to stay off the job until their “deplorable and unsanitary” working conditions have been rectified.
Tuesday, more than 30 staff members reported for their morning and evening shifts but refused to perform their normal duties.
They are calling on management to address the basic working conditions which include lack of running water to flush bathrooms and wash hands, clean drinking water for all employees, functioning washing machines, which they require to carry out their duties efficiently.
Shop Steward Bridgette Alexander said the problems have been ongoing for years, but the employees had agreed to continue working as they had been promised the issues would be addressed.
Alexander said that at times, the clogged bathrooms have caused raw sewage to overflow into the passageway where the staff has to walk.
“The main ward doesn’t have running water and we have to clean patients and then walk all the way to … wash hands or use the bathroom. We had a situation recently with patients from maximum that kicked down a door and they rushed out onto two or three nurses and we just don’t feel safe,” she said.
The staff representative added, “The kitchen staff have been bawling out for a long time; the vent is
not working and the place is hot. They came and fixed one of the stoves and removed the sink and up to now they have not returned the sink.”
Alexander said the washing machines have repeatedly broken down, and the institution’s laundry has to be carted off to Mount St John’s Medical Centre on specific days; in the meantime the dirty linen piles up and the sheets remain on the patients’ beds for up to three weeks.