Health Ministry said it is addressing the concerns of Clarevue workers

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The Ministry of Health and the Environment has broken its silence about the on-going strike at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital.
In a press release issued yesterday, the ministry denied that it ignored the concerns of protesting Clarevue staff, a claim that was made by Joan Peters, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) and workers at the mental hospital.
Earlier this week, the ABPSA president accused Molwyn Joseph, health minister of ignoring the plight of workers by failing to meet with the union to discuss the concerns raised by established workers at Clarevue.
She said, since the action started over a week ago, they have received no word or information from the minister.
However, the ministry outlined what it called the “facts” in the news release.
It said that since the workers began the strike, the permanent secretary, has communicated on more than one occasion with the ABPSA president, and also Karen Josiah, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association.
Further, the permanent secretary, along with Candine Roberts, superintendent of the Clarevue hospital, have communicated the concerns and demands of the striking auxiliary staff, as well as those of the nurses to Minister Joseph.
“The minister, along with the permanent secretary and the Clarevue superintendent have been constantly working on all fronts to address the issues. The treasury has been approached in an attempt to expedite outstanding payments, Public Works, Central Board of Health and APUA have been enlisted in the drive to improve the physical infrastructure and environmental health conditions (key demands of both the striking workers and nurses).
“To date, the striking auxiliary staff have received their overtime and risk allowance pay up to the end of October 2017. The outstanding monies for November and December 2017, as well as payment for uniforms, are expected to be paid shortly,” the statement said.
“Work to improve environmental health and safety and security is ongoing; the surrounding grass has been cut, and a maintenance schedule established, vector control operations have increased and work is currently being carried out to upgrade the toilets, bathroom, lighting and plumbing facilities,” the minister added.
In referencing the immediate demands of the nurses, according to the statement, Minister Joseph is confident that outstanding payments and other requests for a new perimeter fence, clothing for patients, couches for the patient’s waiting room, frequent garbage collection, as well as lighting and plumbing issues, will be resolved before the ultimatum deadline.
Meanwhile, in responding to an allegation by one of the striking workers who told a Daily Observer reporter that “at one time they had only one bar of soap for 42 females,” Superintendent Roberts was adamant that such an incident has never occurred during her tenure.
Established workers at the mental hospital have been off duty for more than a week as they agitate for better working conditions.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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