Over 150 healthcare workers attached to the Georgetown Hospital including nurses and medical technologists protested this morning to voice their dissatisfaction with their salaries and benefits and the working conditions they have to endure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nurses and other health care workers marched along the streets outside the Georgetown Hospital loudly voicing their concerns and making known their demands.
They are demanding increases in their salaries, gratuities and risk allowances.
“We are here protesting for our allowances that were allotted for us since the COVID started. There was a previous promise to us, that we will be paid allowances. There are some persons receiving allowances at the moment but we are all at risk, we are all coming into contact with patients at the gate, relatives at the gate in the compound, we are all at risk, we are coming here daily serving the citizens of Guyana and we need to have some appreciation shown to us, not promises that the allowance will be paid sometime.” a male nurse declared.
He complained that it appears as though no one is listening to their cries and concern and that is responsible for many nurses and other health care professionals leaving the profession.
Head of Occupation Health and Safety and Union representative, Orwin John said the Ministry of Health should have addressed the concerns of the nurses and other healthcare workers.
Mr. John reminded that all healthcare workers are putting themselves at risk and therefore they should all be properly covered and compensated.
“What is being said is that there are only a few people in the system who are frontline workers. Now, that doesn’t make sense. There are nurses who contracted the virus while delivering care and they are not receiving COVID relief or risk allowance and not only nurses, Doctors are being tested for COVID because they were exposed to patients in the unit” Mr. John said
The union representative said the health workers are raising legitimate concerns and no one should try to turn the issue into a political one.
“The Union does what it has to do, the employer has to be a caring employer and respond to the needs of the people…It’s about the employer being a caring employer and realizing that nurses are getting chicken feed for salaries and this is what has been going on for years. The employer must know that they have to care for their workers, that they have to care for people.” Mr. John maintain
Healthcare workers have been raising their voices for increased benefits and allowances over the past few days. The protest action started in Linden and has since spread to the West Coast of Demerara and now Georgetown.
Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony has been pleading with the healthcare workers to be patient. He has reminded that the government has set aside $150 million for health workers to be paid extra. But some health workers have said when you take into account the number of healthcare workers across the country, that sum will see them receiving no more than a $5000 risk allowance and that is not good enough, they have contended.