Clarevue Nurses withdraw threats

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Nurses at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital have withdrawn their threat of industrial action, but established workers at the government run institution are continuing to strike for more than 30 days, protesting deplorable conditions there.
The Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association had given the government a 30-day period, beginning on January 7, to address what they claimed were deplorable conditions at the hospital.
The 30-day period expired on February 7. However, Karen Josiah, president of the association said the nurses have agreed to give the government additional time to complete ongoing work to upgrade the facility.
“We are going to be giving them some time to complete the work they have started and we will be monitoring closely so that we have a better idea of what is going on,” Josiah said during an interview on the weekend.
According to Josiah, the government is in the process of expanding the nursing station, which includes a dressing room, a lounge for the nurses, examination room and offices for doctors who are assigned to the mental institution.
She said the work is expected to last about four to five weeks.
Over 12 registered nurses are attached to the mental hospital, which is located on the Simon Bolivar main road, and has 119 patients and over 100 staff.
In mid-January,the nurses threatened to strike if the health ministry failed to improve the conditions at the institution, ensure that long outstanding payments are made to them, among other demands, including a private care and treatment room, a new perimeter fence, clothing for patients and improving washroom facilities and plumbing.
The nurses had also complained about increase in their workload which resulted from established government workers taking protracted industrial action for similar reasons.
The head of the nurses’ association also disclosed that health officials have already ensured that the grass within the hospital compound has already been cut and they have established a maintenance scheduled going forward.
“I visited there recently, and I intend to make weekly visits and get reports from the matron and other administrative staff at the mental hospital,” Josiah said.
She thanked the Antigua Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) for also agitating for improvements at the mental hospital.
But Joan Peters, ABPSA president is far from pleased about the pending changes at Clarevue.
Peters said that she is not sure how building a facility for doctors to see patients could be viewed as ongoing work.
“We are talking about deplorable bathroom facility which is still in use, tiles that need to be changed. They assured me recently that they are looking at it and once that is sorted the workers can go back to work,” Peters said.
February 10, made exactly a month since established workers went on strike.
Peters said, “For that time-period they should have done more to bring this situation to an end. We wrote to them in November.”
On Friday, the public relations unit within the Ministry of Health sent a series of photographs to the media providing an update on the changes that are taking place at the mental health facility.

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