Protests by health workers are far from finished despite the North Central Regional Health Authority’s (NCRHA) announcement that all outstanding increments will be paid to health workers in the coming weeks.
NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas confirmed yesterday that following a meeting with Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, the authority’s payroll department “will initiate the required processes immediately to ensure that full payment (100 per cent) of arrears for increments will occur within the week of June 30 to July 4, 2020.”
The announcement came after a spate of protest action by the Public Service Association at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex and the T&T Registered Nurses’ Association at various facilities.
But while TTRNA president Idi Stewart welcomed Imbert’s intervention, he said the protests would continue.
“These would have been 2013 salaries previously negotiated for that is now being fulfilled. The obligation is now being fulfilled to nursing personnel and other health care workers in 2020, seven years later. Nonetheless, this is not remotely the end of the agitation by TTRNA, we are continuing our two and half weeks of demonstrating,” Stewart said after staging another demonstration at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
“We have a number of outstanding issues that must be addressed. The increments issue is just one issue but that is specific to NCRHA, there is increments owed across the board to the other four remaining RHAs and we are not going to rest until all increments are paid. This is not something new we are negotiating, it is already existing and not being fulfilled by the RHAs,” Stewart said.
Stewart said there were also awaiting a meeting with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh concerning their proposal for benefits, hazard allowance and health insurance.
National Trade Union Centre General Secretary Michael Annisette, meanwhile, said the NCRHA announcement was not a victory for unions across the country.
“It should have never happened, it should have never reach to that. To demonstrate what we have been articulating all the time. There is a deliberate wage freeze that has been implemented by this Government because we have thousands of workers in Trinidad and Tobago, government employees, state enterprise and daily-paid workers, you know port workers and IMA workers who have not yet received salary increases,” he said.
“We don’t see this as a victory, we see this as a continuation of the struggle for decency and respect for workers in Trinidad and Tobago. The fact that workers had to struggle to get what is duly their own, which is an increment.”
Annisette also raised concern that the PSA was not involved in the discussion prior to the announcement.