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NHWU URGES SWRHA CEO TO ADDRESS SALARY, PENSION ISSUES

posted 18 Mar 2015, 18:11 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Mar 2015, 18:17 ]
On 15th March, 2015, the National Health Workers Union wrote the following letter to Mr. Anil Gosine, Chief Executive Officer, South West Regional Health Authority. The letter was signed by comrade Sylvan Wilson for the General Secretary, Comrade Dave Smith.

A media release issued by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) has indicated that a settlement has been arrived at on the salary negotiations with the Public Services Association for the period 2011-2013.

The National Health Workers’ Union (NHWU) is aware that the Regional Health Authority Act mandates that South West Regional Authority (SWRHA) must implement those terms for the few remaining persons who were seconded or transferred from the Ministry of Health.

We are also aware that SWRHA has traditionally extended some of these benefits to the salary-rated employees employed directly by the Authority, which represents well over ninety-nine per cent of your workforce. The NHWU calls on you, the Board of Directors and management to do the following.

 Salaries and Allowances

1)      You urgently implement increases to all monthly rated employees who were employed directly by SWRHA of not less than the amounts publicly stated by the CPO. This we expect should be done no later than April, 2015 month’s end. This must be done expeditiously as these workers have been subsisting on 2010 salaries and this should be corrected immediately.

 2)      These increases be extended to all categories of “non-permanent” workers, inclusive of those described as temporary, contract (of whatever duration) etc. You are fully aware that most of them have been holding down permanent positions in the establishment for many years.

 3)       Full retroactive pay for the entire period be made to all employees described in (1) and (2), this should be effected not later than May, 2015 month’s end.

 4)      Detailed statements to ALL employees indicating (a) the amount of each and every increase in benefits that is to be applied and for each respective year. (b) a breakdown of sums calculated for each benefit for each year for each employee. (c) these statements must be distributed before payments are made so that employees will be able to more accurately calculate their entitlements and be aware of the basis for your calculations.

 Pensions

 NHWU expects that all former employees of SWRHA, who retired post 1st January, 2011 would have their pensions adjusted by virtue of the increases to their pensionable salary. We are appalled at the paltry levels of Pensions in Payment endured by ALL retirees of the RHAs. We call on the Boards of Directors of all the RHAs to mandate that the Pensions Oversight Committee meet and immediately increase all Pensions in Payment; we suggest by fifty (50%) per cent.

We also call for an immediate review, based on actuarial advice, to be done aimed at improving the benefits payable from the Employees’ Pension Plan. Too many former dedicated workers are languishing in poverty in their retirement.

 General Observations

The National Health Workers Union feels certain that you and more so your management must be painfully aware of the constant hemorrhage of your highly trained, hard working and experienced staff. This is largely due to the poor terms and conditions of employment meted out to them. Some of this loss goes to the local private health sector. The fact that SWRHA cannot successfully compete, particularly with some of the smaller outfits, is a grave indictment on the organization. We fear that the previously referenced CPO’s announcement of salary increases will not cure this ailment.

Our investigation suggests that your organization is guilty of throwing good money after bad. SWRHA seems quite comfortable expending large sums of money to source personnel from all over the globe. This “solution” gives rise to all kinds of challenges e.g. language barriers, cultural shocks etc., rather than meaningfully upgrading the compensation package for its healthcare professionals.

We suggest that a comparative analysis be done on SWRHA’s package over the last fifteen years with other service occupations, e.g. teaching, and see if it does not explain to large measure the exodus and low worker morale endemic in the region. It is to the immense credit of those exploited workers who remain that SWRHA still delivers the excellent service they provide to their patients.

The National Health Workers Union is of the firm belief that if your organization were to make serious attempts to address this myopic policy that a major reversal of flow of well-trained and experienced staff would materialize. This would be achieved at a fraction of the cost of producing them yourself and in a far quicker timeframe.  It is for this reason we urge that your considerations be not limited only to the recent announcements but that you see the broader picture and that the increases arising from the CPO be viewed as an interim measure. 

The NHWU remains ready, willing and able to assist SWRHA in developing the region to be the flagship of health care delivery to the nation.

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