Joseph: Stop government workers’ risk allowance

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Minister of health, Molwyn Joseph is advocating for ending the monthly payment of risk allowance for government workers. Protesting workers at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital are owed in excess of $1.7 million in risk allowance. The minister said the amount was accumulated over a period of 10 years, starting from May 2005.
At a media briefing yesterday Joseph said it was time to consider stop paying employees for taking risks on the job. “It does not make good sense for management to pay people to take risks. If there is a risk, what should happen is that organisation should have structures in place to avert the risk. If there is a job with a particular risk [then] it is recognised in terms of your remuneration and not to separate like a risk allowance,” he said.
Joseph highlighted instances where he said risk allowance has worked against employees. He noted that employees who are paid risk allowance often do not wear the proper protective gear on the job, even though they are collecting the allowance. “There have been cases in Public Works [Department] where people in the quarry are paid risk allowance. Instead of demanding they wear the right gear to protect their health the government should use that money and buy the necessary respirators, [protective clothing], rather than telling [staff] ‘I will pay you to take the risk’,'” he said.
The minister lamented that employees opt to accept the risk while collecting the allowance, but continue to put their health and safety in danger. Joseph opined that whatever risk allowance is being paid should be converted as part of the salary while improvements should be made to workplace safety. The health minister further stated that he was not aware of the large sum of money that is owed to protesting workers at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital. For over two weeks employees at the mental hospital have protested their working conditions and outstanding risk allowance.
The minister said he was only made aware yesterday morning before the press conference that the sum owed is in excess of $1.7 million. He blamed the management of the hospital for not bringing it to the attention of the health ministry sooner. “I never knew this before. In proper management, any organisation reports are routinely made and sent up.
The reports are not necessarily designed for the person who is in charge to take action, they are designed to make sure that people in the organisation are aware of what is happening,” he said. Joseph said that had he known about the outstanding payments, he would have brought the matter to the attention of Cabinet sooner.

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