Healthcare workers are rejecting Government offer to pay them 25 per cent of the gratuity owed to them.
Speaking during a protest at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope yesterday, Public Services’ Association executive branch officer Kester Thomas said healthcare workers were perplexed when the announcement was made in the Parliament on Monday.
“We worked assiduously through COVID-19 and we did not abandon ship so we need the 100 per cent that supposed to be paid to us,” Thomas said as workers attached to the Mt Hope, Arima and St Joseph hospitals staged a demonstration at the EWMSC yesterday.
As he spoke, workers hit pots while chanting, “We want we money right now.”
During Monday’ sitting of the Senate, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat said Government was committed to paying gratuity arrears to some 2,440 regional health authority workers by month-end. However, he said the workers would be paid 25 per cent of the arrears. The categories of workers entitled to payments include nurses, patient escorts, maids, cleaners, technicians and doctors.
Healthcare workers also protested at the recently-opened Arima Hospital on Monday.
But Thomas yesterday described the Government’s latest offer as a “slap in the face” given the sacrifices they have made for the country over the last few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got a troubling message from Minister Rambharat that they are willing to pay 25 per cent of the increments. It is mind-boggling that the Minister of Agriculture would break this message. That’s outstanding money that they had for us for the last five years,” Thomas told Guardian Media.
Although he was not able to give a specific figure on how much the Government owes the workers, he said it runs into millions. He added that the health workers in T&T had made great sacrifices during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown and was troubled this was how the Government is treating them.
“We gave respect to the people of T&T, as we came out every day and gave 100 per cent to make sure that people’s health is in order. Now, we want what is ours. This is not a gift,” Thomas said.
He also compared the position of health workers to that of teachers who were offered $20 million in stipends to come out in July to prepare students for the proposed August 20 SEA date.
“People are saying that health workers are vexed and jealous that the teachers may get that money. What we are looking at is the urgency in which the teachers were offered that. They did not earn that money, it was offered by the Government to them. With health workers, it is money that we earned,” he stressed.
He said they intend to continue displaying their “disgust” with Government’s offer by continuing daily protests and demonstrations.
He added, “The action we are preparing to take isis to give 25 per cent work if that is what we are worth.”