Clarevue staff owed EC$1M in outstanding pay back at work – for now

Many staff were on strike for more than a month (File photo)
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By Gemma Handy

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Six days and counting. That’s the deadline health officials have been given by beleaguered Clarevue workers and their union reps to show efforts to address appalling conditions at the country’s sole psychiatric hospital.

The Public Service Association (ABPSA) is set to meet with Ministry of Health bosses on June 15 to assess progress made and determine the next steps.

Many staff were on strike for more than a month before reluctantly returning to work this week.

“The minister asked that we give them a chance to get things done at Clarevue. So we are giving them the opportunity to do so and then we meet again on the 15th.

“We are watching to see what happens and we will take it from there,” ABPSA President Joan Peters told Observer yesterday.

It’s not just unreliable water supply, crumbling infrastructure and security concerns plaguing the institute’s 100-plus employees. They are said to be collectively owed more than a staggering EC$1 million in outstanding risk allowance and overtime pay too.

Peters said some of the claims date back as far as 2015.

 “I can see the depression and stress in workers’ faces,” said Clarevue’s Shop Steward Ava Bowen. “I am so disappointed that we are still waiting.”

Clarevue workers have long decried conditions at the Skerritts Pasture-based hospital, currently home to 130 patients. But a series of protests, strikes and demands over many years appear to have had little effect. 

“It’s now hurricane season and we still don’t have a generator. If a storm comes, I don’t know what we will do,” Bowen continued.

“We don’t even have an extractor fan for the kitchen. You can imagine the heat in there, cooking up all those big pots.”

The government began to reimburse Clarevue workers their outstanding money in early May. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Ena Dalso-Henry, said disbursements would continue until all staff were paid in full.

“Since individuals took industrial action some weeks ago, the ministry has made every effort to pay overtime owed to all the workers.

“We intend to continue disbursements. We don’t have a schedule yet but all amounts owed will be paid,” she told Observer yesterday.

Regular salaries and wages have been kept up to date, Dalso-Henry confirmed.

“There have been other concerns raised by workers and the union representing them,” she continued.

“Some of those can be addressed immediately, for example, the lighting on the compound. Others, such as refurbishment works, will take some time,” she added.

Clarevue staff are among several arms of government to take industrial action over owed overtime and other entitlements in recent months.

Others include the Central Board of Health, Public Works, state media ABS, the quarries, Solid Waste, the Fiennes Institute, the Care Project, school bus drivers, and APUA.

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