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Industrial action to continue

by Anesta Henry
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General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UWU) Senator Caswell Franklyn is warning that there will be continued disruptions to the healthcare system on Wednesday, as nurses stand ready to intensify strike action against the pending COVID-19 Safe Zones Policy.
A sickout on Monday by more than 100 nurses represented by the UWU affected operations at least three polyclinics and a COVID-19 vaccination centre, and action continued on Tuesday.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Senator Franklyn, who said scores of nurses had been rushing to join his union, served notice that additional polyclinics and stateowned healthcare facilities would be impacted, if Government was not prepared to sit with the nurses and listen to their concerns.

“The action is about to intensify. We still allowed them to keep some clinics open but they seem not to have respect for nurses, so we will intensify the action. So, tomorrow you can expect to see more closures. More nurses have been coming to join my union, they want to get this matter finished once and for all,” he said.

Tuesday marked day five of industrial action which started last Saturday when nurses at the Geriatric Hospital walked off the job, after receiving a memo from hospital management informing them of the commencement of weekly testing for unvaccinated employees, in accordance with the Safe Zone Directive No 2, 2021.

Minister of Health and Wellness Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic said on Monday that the memo had been sent out prematurely. He said the Safe Zones Policy, which is under review, was not yet ready to take effect and healthcare workers would be given at least one week’s notice prior to the implementation of the policy.

He said a meeting was scheduled to be held on Tuesday with the Director General in the Ministry of Civil Service.
Efforts to reach Minister Bostic to find out the outcome of that meeting were unsuccessful.

When contacted, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Kenneth George said he had no information regarding that meeting since he did not attend.
Senator Franklyn indicated that he was not invited to attend the talks.

“I haven’t heard, but of course they wouldn’t tell me what happened in that meeting. That was a meeting for the government people to assess what they are doing; they didn’t call me,” he said.

“Thursday last week, Dr George said the Safe Zones are up and running and that the Geriatric Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) were getting good cooperation, and then we see 117 people’s names on a list telling them they have to get vaccinated.

“And I think that is the straw that broke the camel’s back, because nurses were struggling with some awful conditions and then you gone and expose their information publicly by posting their names, in some instances their entire name, on a notice board telling people that they got to go and get vaccinated. Nurses told me that they got calls from people outside of the public service asking them why they wouldn’t go and get the vaccine,” Senator Franklyn added.

anestahenry@barbadostoday.bb

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