Friday, April 19, 2024

QEH warned


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Three unions are demanding that the management of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) stop “breaking” age-old employment practices.But up to late yesterday it remained unclear if the hospital would face serious disruptions over the issue.The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) yesterday joined the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) in complaining about alleged changes in QEH hiring practices.The NUPW has put its QEH members on notice that it is prepared to take between 1 000 and 1 500 people off the job and in to meet chief executive officer Dexter James, if this becomes necessary.The BWU expressed “alarm” at the reports of “changes in the QEH’s employment policy”.It warned the QEH directorate not to expect support “for labour practices that fail to respect our country’s demand for justice, transparency, non-discrimination and true and equal respect for all persons”.Earlier, BAMP’s public relations officer, psychiatrist Dr Ermine Belle, told the media that BAMP would write both the QEH and the Ministry of Health on its concerns about recruitment and other issues, and would “decide on action as deemed necessary” to press its demands.She charged that the QEH had broken the rules in a recent recruitment Press ad to fill two positions – a consultant urologist and pathologist.According to the terms and conditions of service with the QEH, vacancies first had to be “advertised internally”, Belle reported.Options were to be given to “those on the job”, unless the QEH had problems with such employees, she said.If there were concerns about staff performance, then those employees “should have been advised, over time, that they were not satisfactory”, Belle added.The recruitment issue was discussed during a meeting the membership of BAMP held in the QEH auditorium yesterday morning. Close to 100 people from the medical fraternity were said to have attended the meeting.On Monday, the NUPW had held a meeting with QEH employees, including laundry workers, in the same auditorium, charging that the QEH was breaking the practice of using the most senior of the temporary workers to fill vacancies cropping up in their departments.NUPW general secretary Dennis Clarke said the QEH had not discussed the issue with his union, but had circulated a document spelling out its position.The BWU, in the statement signed by general secretary Sir Roy Trotman, said it “strongly rejects any and all efforts which may be made to effect changes unilaterally” in the terms of engagement. Patients’ attendance at polyclinics across the island was down, following early notice of the meeting given by BAMP. (TY)


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