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A hospital orderly pushes a bed along a corridor lined with protesting workers at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope yesterday.

PETER CHRISTOPHER

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Public Service Association (PSA) President Watson Duke said the decision to “bribe” teachers has left a bitter taste in the mouths of health workers. He said that is why workers at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) staged a protest on Friday.

“We believe now is a good time to open up the government Treasury and settle the outstanding arrears for workers at the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) and all the other regional Health authorities, including Tobago,” he said.

According to the PSA leader, massive demonstrations will be held at all regional authorities across the country on June 30.

Yesterday’s protest, which was led by PSA representative Kester Thomas, was to highlight the fact that several non-permanent workers who worked throughout the COVID-19 period are still seeking permanent employment and improved wages.

“We pleased the public but at the end of the day, we got salt, nothing. We are not looking for anything extra, we are looking for what is ours. We want our permanent letter. We want it now!” said Thomas.

“Better we were teachers because teachers get through.”

Duke said the protest could have been avoided if promises made during several meetings with NCRHA Chief Executive Officer Davlin Thomas.

“What happened at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex could have been avoided,” he said. “It was something that the PSA had been trying to avoid. We had several meetings with the CEO Davlin Thomas and all we got was promises, promises, promises.

“We are of the view that promises are not enough, having worked through a period that was considered a war against a silent enemy and having defended this country to the hilt.”

Duke said the offer of a stipend to SEA teachers only increased the ire of the workers.

“It’s sufficient to create a distaste in the mouth of workers to hear the government bribing and giving inducements to teachers to come out during their holiday period. Just to come out you are giving inducements. It hurt the health service to the core,” he said.

“These health workers were on holidays and they were called back out without any incentives to battle death, to battle COVID-19. You have left them, you have ignored their cries they were not home with their children, they were out fighting it.

“They got no pandemic leave, they got nothing but clap. And you are saying to them now hold on teachers who were not essential during the COVID virus will give you between $500 to $1000, come out, come out, come out.”

President of the Registered Nurses Association Idi Stuart said while some of his nurses were present at the protest, it was solely a PSA demonstration involving mainly administrative staff at EWMSC. He said they will be staging protests along with the PSA next week.

In a release yesterday, NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas said: “I was made aware that that matter is being engaged at the level of the Ministry of Health and I have been notified that the Ministry is seeking to address the concerns of the health care workers.”