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PSA President Watson Duke speaks to the staff at the San Fernando General Hospital yesterday.

Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke has given the South West Regional Health Authority two weeks to address complaints by healthcare workers of working long shifts, no overtime and no vacation leave.

Duke promised to take action if the Authority fails to meet the deadline. He spoke to reporters after meeting with workers at the San Fernando General Hospital.

He said, “We are overwhelmed by the kind of non-conformances, things that we feel should not happen are happening. For instance, workers are working 12-hour shifts rather than eight-hour shifts. Workers are working without breaks. Their vacation leave is taken away from them completely, they can’t get no vacation leave. They are tired, they are frustrated. They are not remunerated for overtime and some of them are not even at their current incremental points whilst some of them have not gotten no increments at all.”

He complained that workers in the public sector were being treated unfairly.

“There is bias against workers in the public sector as opposed to teachers. Teachers were treated with a golden handshake.”

Even though teachers have been home since March, he said they were paid an additional month’s salary when they came out to work during the August holidays in preparation for SEA exams.

He said 466 workers have not gotten their increments since April. “We have found a friend in the CEO in that he is talking to us. He seems to be interested in doing the right thing but even the right thing must have a deadline.”

Confident that he would win the PSA elections on November 23, Duke put the government on notice to prepare for battle in January.

He also took issue with Hazel Manning, the wife of former prime minister Patrick Manning, speaking at the virtual launch meeting of his challenger Curtis Cuffy’s campaign on Friday night.

Dubbing Cuffy’s party, Concerned Public Officers, a PNM’s group, he advised Manning to stay out of trade union business.

“So I would say that she should not align herself with them but rather she should stick to the politics perhaps she should try and work with her son Brian Manning. He needs the help but leave trade union business for trade unions.”

When contacted, Manning said she is willing to speak to anyone to help T&T through this time of COVID-19.