It was quite heartening to observe the Clarevue workers angrily displaying their placards, and loudly raising their voices in protest, as they journeyed from Clarevue to the Ministry of Health headquarters at the 39ers Public Square yesterday. They were taking their fight to the good minister of health, and they were determined not to be deterred or denied. As they circled the Sir V C Bird bust and the lovely plaque with the names of the historic 39ers, it was not difficult to imagine that those venerated Antiguans who fought so valiantly for a betterment here in Antigua and Barbuda, turned in their resting places in approbation. After all, this sort of righteous indignation on the behalf of workers, was the stuff of which they were made.
Of course, the irony of their protest was not lost on Antiguan and Barbudans – mental health workers angrily calling for better working conditions, a promised Covid stipend, and monies owed to them, right smack in the month dedicated to mental health. Sigh! You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Talk about delicious irony! There they were yelling, MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS, in a nod to the Black Lives Matter protest slogan in the United States, never mind that they very easily, and quite appropriately, could have shouted, THE LIVES OF THE MENTALLY ILL MATTER. Sadly, this administration, notwithstanding the fact that the good Minister of Health has spoken in the past of the need for a new facility, and improved care for those who are struggling with a mental affliction, has buried its head in the sand, ignoring the clear and present danger that is Clarevue.
Not that we are surprised. The actions of this administration as they pertain to Clarevue, are of a piece with its feckless and disingenuous way of doing business – ignore the desperate cries of the workers until they are forced to take to the streets. Then stride in like knights in shining armour, preening and prancing for the cameras, promising to make them whole. Unfortunately, this mealy-mouthed administration has reneged on so many promises to workers that many now choose to continue their agitation until the money is actually in their hands. Apparently, this administration’s word is not worth spit!
At the time of going to press yesterday, we heard from he of a high place that monies have already been sent to the Treasury for the protesting Clarevue workers, and that they will be made whole this week. Forgive us for being cynical, but we seriously doubt that the workers will get their money by the end of this week. This administration has rarely been on time with any promise made. It is the coin of the realm.
Interestingly, we sympathise with he of a high place, the fireman in chief, never mind that he is himself a pyrotechnist. Ever so often, with astonishing regularity, he is forced to juggle funds and put out another financial conflagration. Seems, notwithstanding his supposed genius in managing money, he has made an absolute mess of this country’s finances. We suggest, in an adulterated version of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous ‘never-in-the-field speech,’ that never in the field of government money management has ‘so much been owed to so many by an administration.’(Shaking our heads) We mean, over the past few months, almost every blessed week a disgruntled department or contractor here in Antigua and Barbuda is downing tools and taking to the streets, demanding to be remunerated by this pathetic, poor-boast administration. So sad – ranking officials with so much mouth, delivering so precious little. Chupz!
Again, we salute the Clarevue workers, especially their outspoken Shop Steward, Ava Bowen. She did not mince words, passionately making the case for her colleagues. Kudos to her, and may her tribe increase here in our fair State. Seems, all of those entities that are owed by this administration are tired of being ignored and trifled with. They are now protesting, with voices loud and clear, “Show us the money!”
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