Psychiatric Hospital nurses say they are at wits’ end over pay issues which has not been settled despite assurances by Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.
It was back in October at a church service held at Abundant Life to celebrate Mental Health Month that Lt. Col. Bostic assured the workers at the Psychiatric Hospital that they would receive overdue their wages by month-end.
“Let me assure you that we have requested a list of all such persons throughout the entire health sector. This has reached me I have looked at it and I have forwarded it to the Ministry of Finance.
“On Thursday, a copy of that list will be delivered to the Prime Minister and we intend to resolve those issues by month end,” Bostic then said, to loud applause from the congregation which included management and staff of the Psychiatric Hospital.
Now in November, a nurse who said she was speaking on behalf of her hospital co-workers said that the situation was reaching boiling point with some nurses ready to walk off the job.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity, the nurse said that some nurses were frustrated that they have not received their salary in six months nor have they been appointed to permanent posts.
“If you are not getting any salary for six months then you cannot come to work . . . . What we are tired of is not getting the salary and getting promises of appointments and right now the nurses cannot take it anymore. It is either [the Director of the Psychiatric Hospital David Leacock] goes or we go,” the nurse said.
The nurse then levelled withering criticism on behalf of the nurses at the hospital administrator.
“He is not managing the hospital properly and we cannot take it anymore. The Minister needs to rid the Psychiatric Hospital of the Hospital Director and get our salaries straight and give us our appointments or we are going to walk off the job,” the nurse, who claimed authority to speak on their behalf said.
The nurse claimed that the situation was so dire at the Psychiatric Hospital that some members of staff were coming to work hungry with nothing to eat.
“What you can do? There is nothing you can do. The nurses in the Psychiatric Hospital [are] suffering greatly,” said the nurse who claimed the pay issue had forced some nurses to leave for Bermuda. “It is not like we do not want to be here and work in Barbados but it is that we cannot take the management at the Psychiatric hospital no more.”
Absenteeism is high because the workers are not being paid, the nurse told Barbados TODAY.
Some of the nursing staff of the hospital reportedly had their children removed from day care for being unable to pay the fees, the source added.
“We even had situations where the nurse’s children are being turned back from nurseries because you cannot pay the nursery and if you open your mouth and say something you are getting victimized by management. Management … [victimizes] you for asking questions. Imagine going to your senior supervisor and saying to them, ‘I have not been paid in months; what am I going to do? Is there anything?’And you are being told, ‘I [have not] received my acting salary yet.’ It is really disrespectful,” the nurse said.
The source also reported some colleagues have been forced to do additional jobs, in violation of civil service rules, so that they can make it to work and feed their children.
“It is not fair that you are working in a Government job and you have to work an extra job to get money to go to a Government job. Because, even so, it is against the law,” the nurse told Barbados TODAY.
Another vexing issue for the nurses is appointments, said the source, who noted that despite working at the hospital for years, some have not yet been appointed to permanent positions.
“A lot of us have been in the hospital training for years. Every six or so months they are asking you to bring in qualifications for the hospital and a CV and the nurses are tired. The nurses have been acting in those positions for years, we should not have to go through this interview process,” the nurse told Barbados TODAY.
The workers also claimed they were being unfairly handled by at least one senior nurse, who reportedly told nurses that they did not deserve to be appointed and that if she had her way none of the current staff would be appointed.
A union official confirmed the nurse’s claims that some have not been paid in up to six months despite the assurance which was made back in October.
When contacted, the Psychiatric Hospital’s director, David Leacock, told Barbados TODAY he could not speak to some of the concerns raised. He suggested that the nurses should report their concerns to the Ministry of Health.
“I really cannot speak to any of the concerns that [have] been raised until I am made aware of them other than to say that appointments are not in our remit and we would wait until such time until the necessary things are done and I cannot speak to anything else on that matter,” he said.