Leader of the Unity Workers Union (UWU) Senator Caswell Franklyn says nurses at the Geriatric Hospital in a fight against an order to get a weekly COVID-19 test walked off the job today.
He told Barbados TODAY that on Friday, the management of the Beckles Road, St Michael, Geriatric Hospital, issued a memorandum to staff indicating that the hospital will be facilitating weekly testing for employees in accordance with the Emergency Management COVID-19 Safe Zone Directive NO 2, 2021.
However, the union leader argued that the Geriatric Hospital was not acting within the law considering that the Emergency Management COVID-19 Safe Zone Directive NO 2, 2021 has not been implemented.
“The directive has not been made by the Prime Minister but we have people implementing this directive. This is not yet law but we have people quoting it and insisting that nurses get tested in accordance with that legislation. One was proposed and it was never implemented because we had meetings with the Government and we had objections to it.
“But now the Government getting their officials to get what they had planned to do without legislating it one way or the other. Well that is illegal, it is improper and even if it was properly put in place, the nurses pledge to withdraw their labour if it came into force.
“We wrote to the Government Tuesday last week and we met on the following day and that was our position. We told them then that we would take immediate strike action without any further reference to them if this matter is brought into force. Well as far as we can see here, they have brought them into force even without lawful authority to do so and that is troubling,” Franklyn said.
Franklyn said the memorandum also states that unvaccinated workers are expected to visit the Queen’s Park testing facility each Monday to be tested from 9 a.m. until, and that the results will be forwarded to the Geriatric Hospital for documentation.
He further stated that it was also troubling that included on the list of unvaccinated staff members at the Geriatric Hospital required to undergo weekly testing, are nurses who were brought in from other countries to work. He is demanding answers regarding why unvaccinated nurses were allowed to come to the island to work, at a time when efforts are being made to get Barbadian nurses to take the jab.
“We cannot take this high handed behaviour from Government. We will not accept it. I know there were several nurses at my office this morning who were supposed to go to work. At least 10 of them were at my office, so somebody is missing 10 nurses.
“Mind you, from the time this notice was issued I couldn’t keep up with the nurses coming here to join the union. Between yesterday and today, I had 40 applications for membership. The thing is I have never had 40 applications in the history of this union and we started in 2010,” he said.
Senator Franklyn also questioned the accuracy of Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George’s claim this week that there is full cooperation from the Geriatric Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, regarding the policy directive, when nurses are complaining about the way it is being done.
When contacted, Dr George suggested that Minister of Health Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic be contacted on the matter, which he said is a policy decision that is not under the purview of the CMO. Barbados TODAY’s efforts to contact Minister Bostic proved futile. (AH)