Some health workers in Barbados are kicking against plans by the government to recruit more nurses from Ghana into the Caribbean nation.
A General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UWU) Caswell Frankly says nurses attached to his union, some of whom have been on a 23-week strike demanding an audience with Director-General of the Public Service Gail Atkins to discuss ongoing grievances, were surprised at the imminent arrival of additional nurses from the African country.
He said they were upset that the Mia Mottley-led administration was bringing nurses from overseas to work at a time when there are issues regarding payment of Barbadian nurses.
“A lot of them are very angry. They are disappointed. When you hear nurses crying out that they are not getting paid and you bring people from overseas and pay them . . . The Ghanaian nurses have never missed a pay day, but the Bajan nurses have missed several.
“The nurses in Barbados are being made fools of, even the ones that were not on strike. They want to just fill the place with nurses,” charged Franklyn told the Barbados Today.
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In July 2020, 95 Ghanaian nurses came to Barbados to work. Speaking to the Ghanaian people during their 65th Anniversary of Independence celebrations last weekend, Prime Minister Mottley announced that approximately 200 additional Ghanaian nurses have been interviewed and are expected to begin working in Barbados in the future.
However, Franklyn said nurses being represented by his union are of the view that the recruitment of the Ghanaian nurses appears to be the Government’s solution to their protest action which began in November 2021.
“The Government should have allowed the processes in the public service to work…This is not good for the nurses and this is not good for international relations because the Ghanaian government doesn’t know what is going on in Barbados and they are sending nurses down here.
“But Ghana should not be intervening in a strike in Barbados. They should allow their nurses to come to Barbados when there is industrial peace. Ghana should not get involved in our internal matters and that is what they are doing,” the union leader charged.
The nurses began striking to press the Government to deliver better working conditions, increased pay, and health environment, among other issues.
Franklyn said several of them have returned to work due to financial constraints and obligations. However, he indicated that, though frustrated, several of the health professionals are insisting that they will not be returning to work until their industrial matters and longstanding grievances are addressed.
When questioned about the next step for the nurses, the veteran trade unionist said he was not able to say at this time.
“That will be a secret,” he said.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES