Health minister labels Central Medical Stores staff ‘uncooperative’

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The minister of health said the staff of the Central Medical Stores has failed to assist the government to play a meaningful role in improving their health.
During a press conference, yesterday, Molwyn Joseph said the workers who have protested against the condition of the storage facility on Old Parham Road, have not taken up the government’s offer to pay for a medical report from their private physicians.
He added that the assessment was necessary to address the health issues they complained they have been afflicted with due to the presence of mould in the building.
“When you say to the workers ‘go to your own physician’, it is a demonstration that we want to be totally transparent,” Minister Joseph said.
“We could have said, ‘go to [Mount St John’s Medical Centre] or the community clinics’. We want them to have confidence that they are well but we have not yet heard or received a report from any of the workers that any injury has been done to their health.”
He added that the government will take up the responsibility for rectifying the problem and this was communicated over a month ago.
On March 15, Chief Health Inspector Lionel Michael prepared a report that concluded the building was safe for the workers.
The Permanent Secret-ary in the Ministry of Health, Walter Christopher said the findings of the report were shared with the Antigua Trades and Labour Union and the Public Service Association, but to date the workers’ representatives have not acknowledged or responded to the correspondence.
“They received the report and then they had a so-called picket. I mean they should have responded to this and then inform management [they] are dissatisfied and then take action,” the PS said.
The Central Medical Stores workers are to be moved to the former US Air Station at Shell Beach and the minister said the staff is putting up resistance to those attempts by the government to fix the problems.
“It is a perfectly suited building for this type of operation in my estimation but one of the other things that was raised by the workers [and] the union, they want the building tested for radiation; they want the water and air tested. All of that was a demand placed on us, and you know what? We are going to do all the tests. These are some of the alarms that are created for whatever reason,” Joseph said.
The minister said those concerned about radiation should be reminded that their cellphones are one of the biggest offenders.
“We can assure you that we would not put anyone in a building where there is radiation. I have mandated the Ministry of Environment to get the equipment immediately so that we can test for radiation there and everywhere else in Antigua & Barbuda,” he added.
Christopher added that the workers may be upset because Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) rejected the government’s suggestion to send all the workers to MBS. The unions, he said, had been apprised of the situation more than a month ago.
However, Joseph added that no member of staff will lose their employment, as they will either be transferred to MBS or absorbed within the Ministry of Health.

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