T&T: San Fernando Hospital nurses protest over arrears and pay increase

By Caribbean Medical News Staff
Despite promises made by both Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan and Finance Minister Larry Howai, that healthcare workers would be paid arrears and salary increments shortly, nurses at the San Fernando General Hospital did not quite buy into that promise on the eve of a general election.

Lead by the Executive officer of National Health Workers Union (NHWU) Sylvan Wilson, members of the NHWU and the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) joined in a lunchtime demonstration at the San Fernando General Hospital.

Just last week, nurses at the Port of Spain General Hospital protested as well. Similarly, that protest was premised on unpaid wages as well as better working conditions.

“The current regime goes out of office on the 7th of September, so it therefore means beyond the 7th of September, there will be a new minister of Finance, regardless of which party wins the election, and there will be new budget arrangements to be made,” said Mr Wilson.

“If that new Minister of Finance does not honour these commitments, he is so entitled to do because it is going to be a new government, a new Parliament. There is going to be a new budget so that the Parliament has to approve that.

“So all the so-called assurances given by Mr Howai, really and truly, fall flat because we have no documentary evidence that is going to be binding any incoming administration.”

He said that the union officially wrote Minister Howai, asking for clarification regarding the matter.

The union head also stressed that the workers were frustrated over the long wait and since they were not allowed to strike, they demonstrated their grievances using alternative methods.

“People who have legitimate, justified grievances will vent those grievances. However they choose to do it, they would do it,” he added.

The Health Minister recently visited the San Fernando General Hospital and gave his word that nurses and other medical staff would be paid, but requested extra time to distribute funds.

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