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Healthcare workers left infirmary residents unattended to stage demonstration...mayor upset

Published:Friday | May 1, 2015 | 5:00 AM
Healthcare workers at the St Mary Infirmary protesting against working conditions at the infirmary recently.
Levan Freeman, Mayor of Port Maria.
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The Mayor of Port Maria has criticised health-care workers at the St Mary Infirmary after they left residents unattended for hours on Tuesday to hold a street protest against what they say are unfair working conditions.

They demonstrated with pla-cards outside the entrance to the infirmary and accused administrators at the St Mary Parish Council of ignoring several longstanding concerns.

However, speaking from his office in Port Maria, Mayor Levan Freeman, who heads the parish council, claimed to have no knowledge of any serious concerns and urged the disgruntled workers to contact him directly.

He told The Gleaner: "My main concern is to ensure the residents of the infirmary are taken care of, and I think the attitude and behaviour of the workers, in terms of leaving the residents and demonstrating, is not one that we would want or desire because we had to call in back-up staff to take care of the residents.

"Either last year or the year before, staff at the infirmary called me and I met and spoke with them about their concerns, and as a council, we tried to address them.

"If they have challenges that the admin staff are unable to address, they should have simply contacted me. They know I operate an open door because I am a person of dialogue."

The Gleaner has seen copies of letters from the National Workers' Union (NWU) dated November 2014 and February 2015 requesting meetings with the parish council, but Freeman said he was unaware of these correspondences, suggesting a possible breakdown in communication between the mayor and his administration department.

sending a message

The NWU's assistant island supervisor, Leonard Sewell, said they had a peaceful demonstration "because the union has written to the previous and current secretary managers of the parish council, seeking a meeting to address a number of issues affecting staff at the infirmary, but to date, we have neither received a verbal nor a written response".

"Therefore, the staff, who has been bearing these issues for the past three or four years and seeing that no one is addressing them, decided to launch a peaceful demonstration to send a message that management needs to look at these issues as it relates to their conditions of employment."