Staff gives MSJMC 48 hours to respond to grievances

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) Joan Peters, spoke to Observer outside the Mount St John’s Medical Centre among workers protesting for outstanding risk pay.
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By Kadeem Joseph

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Several members of staff at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) who engaged in protest action yesterday morning, said they are giving the hospital administration until Wednesday to address longstanding concerns over risk pay, or they will be taking action again.

About 30 disgruntled workers gathered in front of the Michael’s Mount edifice with placards to demand the attention of the hospital’s administration, who they believed were inadequately remedying thousands of dollars owed in risk allowance.

The President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA), Joan Peters said while some members of staff have received outstanding funds, others have not and this has obtained for “over a year”.

She explained that Monday’s action triggered a high-level financial meeting at MSJMC and she has “asked the workers to give them a chance to meet”.

Peters said the workers will wait until 10 am on Wednesday morning for an adequate response from the hospital’s administration. Failing that, they will continue their protest.

“The workers feel like they are being disrespected because you [MSJMC} have started paying some, you are not able to pay [the others] and no one is saying anything to them,” she added.

The monies owed, according to Peters, date back as far as 10 years for some.

The union head said the hospital started to pay outstanding funds to staff in alphabetical order and “they reached G, so, you know that that’s not even quarter of the workers”.

Observer was at the scene of the protest and spoke to several workers.

“We are not stupid, we know Covid came and a lot to things and no money … we gave them time. But at least say something to us,” one female employee said. “They are not saying anything. It is as if they don’t owe us.”

She said it is “disrespectful” that staff go to work every day and work hard with no updates from MSJMC’s administration.

“We have families, too; our families are going through struggles, too, and they are not saying anything to us … we have had enough,” she added.

The protesting staff, who span various departments, said they are not seeking to hamper the operations of the country’s sole public hospital, but they are in need of answers.

Observer tried to obtain a comment from the hospital’s administration but were unsuccessful up to press time.

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