By Makeida Antonio
Staff at Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital continued their industrial action for the third day in a row yesterday.
The latest protest took place outside of the government-run facility with workers again agitating for overtime pay and better working conditions.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne indicated on Wednesday that monies had been approved to pay the workers and would be dispersed by the Treasury this week.
However, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, Joan Peters, said that there are other concerns among staff which remain on the table.
“I got a letter stating that they are going to issue $300,000 for payments. The workers said they were promised [something similar] some time back, but it did not come through, and so they are not going back in until they get the money.
“It is not only the money that is the issue. There are other issues, and so they are waiting for the other issues to be addressed as well,” Peters told Observer yesterday.
Peters went on to make an appearance on Voice of the People, where she outlined the longstanding issues at the country’s lone psychiatric hospital to include inadequate lighting at night.
“Workers are saying they are tired of promises, because it’s been years now since we have been having lighting issues. I’m sure it’s not the first time you see me come here and talk about lighting issues.
“To make it worse, if APUA electricity comes off at night, they are in pitch darkness because they don’t have a generator,” she stated.
Peters called on officials within the Ministry of Health to show more support for mental health in Antigua and Barbuda by fixing the issues at Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital.
“Mental health matters. If my head is not working well, it means that my whole body is going to react, so I think the government needs to take mental health a little more seriously.
“The Minister of Health needs to take mental health a little more seriously than how he’s now taking it. He probably might be taking it for granted,” she said.
Meanwhile, Peters pointed to a lack of maintenance at the facility and called for greater government support so that maintenance staff can address the poor working and living conditions for staff and patients.
“I think that is one of our biggest issues in Antigua – maintenance. We don’t maintain anything, and so it goes to the ground. Even buildings at Clarevue are rotten, termites are eating, and you have people in them. They have electrical issues, they have plumbing issues in 2022,” she lamented.
The protest at Clarevue is taking place as the country observes Mental Health Awareness Month.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Ena Dalso-Henry, told Observer this week that she had made several recommendations to Cabinet over settling outstanding pay and other issues at the compound.