The Women of Banking, Insurance & General Workers Union strongly condemns the action taken by the Management at the Ministry of Gender, Youth & Child Development against Ms. Cheryl Miller who, it was reported, was forcibly removed from her work place at the Ministry after an office outburst. She was taken for observation to the St. Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital. Ms. Miller is described by her co-workers as a "quiet, introspective" woman; does that mean she is unstable?
Women and workers on the whole, have a number of questions on their minds –
• Is this the new form of workplace bullying, where workers are to keep quiet for fear of being sent to the ‘quite place’ or ‘naughty corner’?
• Are we to take whatever treatment our employer give us and say nothing?
• Even if the action of Ms. Miller is inappropriate, is there not a disciplinary process to be followed?
There are so many options that an employer can use, we are asking what led Management to use the most drastic form of control, of committing a worker for psychiatric observation. These are questions that we as workers should explore with our individual Trade Unions. The Banking, Insurance & General Workers Union Women’s Committee believe that the Ministry’s action is the blatant disregard for due process and the treatment of WORKERS in this country. Our WANTS and RIGHTS are trampled/thrown aside and when we speak out on our behalf, we are labeled aggressive, not team players and in this case unstable.
The following is an excerpt of Ms. Dana Seetahal in her editorial in Trinidad Express dated April 6th, 2012.
There appears to be no other avenue to admit someone to a psychiatric hospital outside the terms of the Mental Health Act. Section 6 of this Act provides that every person who is or is reasonably believed to be in need of treatment at a psychiatric hospital may be admitted on any one of six bases.
(1) As an urgent admission patient - application made by a person supported by certificate of a medical practitioner, review for 48hrs and an assessment made as to whether further treatment is required
(2) A voluntary patient – patient did not volunteer detention
(3) As a medically recommended patient - Under Section 10 - application made by relative or friend accompanied by medical certificates of 2 doctors
(4) By court order - no court order granted
(5) By an order of the Minister of National Security - speaks to detention of a prisoner
(6) on application of a Mental Health Officer - Under Section 15 - a person is found wandering at large on a highway or public place and who by reason of his appearance, conduct or speech, a mental health officer has reason to believe mentally ill and in need of care and treatment may be taken into custody. The mental health officer observes and bases his conclusion of said person himself.
Ms. Seetahal continues, if the basis for Ms Miller's detention is under this section of the Act (section 15) and the facts are as reported in the media then it seems that there was no legal ground for having her detained and then admitted to St Ann's Hospital.
We are happy that after about 15 days of observation, Ms. Miller was released but saddened that it took a Port of Spain High Court judge granting a habeas corpus writ after an emergency sitting on Good Friday to ensure such. It is not the end of this issue as Ms. Miller has to appear in court on Friday April 13th.
As we make plans to celebrate our 50TH ANNIVERSARY as an INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, we call on the Minister of Gender, Youth & Child Development, the Minister of Health and the Honorable Prime Minister of this our Beloved country to clear the air on this serious matter, as it seems to the working class, as an absolute abuse of power.
We also call on the Joint Trade Union Movement Leaders to make a PUBLIC CONDEMNATION of this action made by the Management of the Ministry.
In the Service of the Working Class!
Denise Britton (Ms)
President – Banking, Insurance & General Workers’ Union Women's Committee
#85 Eighth Street, Barataria