Management of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has taken steps to stave off possible industrial action at the healthcare facility.
On Monday, three days after workers in the engineering department staged a protest at the island’s only public hospital, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Wayne Walrond said steps were being taken by management to end the impasse, a major part of which involves the safety and structural integrity of the hospital’s incinerator.
Last Friday, Walrond cautioned management that if progress was not made within a reasonable time regarding the grievances of the engineering staff, the union would take whatever action was necessary to satisfy their demands.
He told Barbados TODAY on Monday that hospital management met with the NUPW in an emergency session to try to address the decade-old grievance of the incinerator which needs to be replaced, as well as other outstanding matters.
“We are going to meet in another two weeks’ time or so with management to evaluate progress made on the issue. We just want to make sure they keep moving on the issues so that we are happy there is some movement on the issues,” he said in an interview.
“We hope when we get back together again at the next meeting, there is some evidence of movement.”
The union is concerned that the incinerator, which is critical to eliminating all medical waste at the hospital, is on the verge of collapse and poses a danger to the safety and life of the engineers, as its structural integrity has been compromised.
It said the hospital had agreed, in principle, to replace the equipment but up until last week’s protest, it had not been able to get management to make any movement in that direction.
Industrial Relations Officer Lisa Allicock said that while the QEH management said they were waiting on the European International Bank (EIB) for funding, “it is at a stage where if we do not make a serious move in replacing this incinerator, it can cause serious harm to not only the staff that has to go in and service this piece of equipment, but it can cause a ripple impact on the well-being of the entire health sector and the country as a whole”.
Workers had also complained about a problem with rodents in some areas of the hospital, a restructuring of the engineering department, and the difficulty procuring items for the engineers to do their jobs.