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Striking psychiatric nursing aides back at work

Published:Wednesday | February 27, 2019 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

Psychiatric nursing aides in the parishes of St Mary, St Ann, and Portland have returned to work after intervention from the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA).

In a press statement on Monday evening, NERHA said the workers involved in industrial action returned to work on Sunday, February 24, following a meeting with unions.

At Saturday’s meeting, it was agreed that NERHA would respond to the aides’ grouses by March 25. The workers are represented by the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (and the National Workers Union.

The workers went on strike last week Thursday protesting against the long-outstanding issue of non-appointment of some psychiatric nursing aides, owed subsistence allowances, and regulations preventing access to recreational activities with psychiatric patients.

In the statement, NERHA asserted that there has been ongoing communication between itself and the unions since August 2018, and some of the issues were already being addressed.

“Specifically, the group was advised that there were no post numbers available on NERHA’s establishment to appoint psychiatric nursing aides, which is not a matter affecting that group only. Additionally, persons so affected were made aware upon employment or promotion of this fact,” NERHA stated.

On salaries, the statement read: “The outstanding subsistence payments were made to the group in September 2018. However, it was raised for the first time on Saturday, February 23 2019, that some members were of the opinion that the calculations were incorrect.

“Being a new concern, meetings with representatives of the respective payroll departments will be arranged for the calculations to be reviewed with these employees,” the statement said.

NERHA said that it acknowledged the right of workers to take industrial action, but reminded them of the need to act in good faith to ensure continued high standards in patient-care delivery.