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posted 16 Apr 2015, 19:20 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 16 Apr 2015, 19:37 ]
The following article was published in the first issue of the newsletter of the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) called SWRHA TODAY (download attachment at bottom of page).

Based on complaints from a wide cross-section of workers in the health care system our involvement in the Regional Health Authorities was guided by a basic tenet that health care workers needed their own organization much like the various protective services and other professional bodies such as teachers.

What incensed our sense of justice was management’s plantation style approach to labour, complemented by a blasé, vociferous, unstructured response by the purveyors of industrial relations. As a result, according to a senior worker, over the years workers were left battered, bruised and bewildered.

Some left a system that massaged foreign health care workers but treated them as second class workers; some are treated like indentured labourers who must survive from contract to contract.

Others, with no alternative at their disposal, simply go through the motion of earning a living.  Meanwhile, management, as to be expected, sees no need to change the culture into a professional one.

Management, seemingly as ignorant of twenty first century industrial relations as their overseer in the Ministry of Health relies, in its relationship with its workers, on a mishmash of thirty year old memoranda that was issued for the guidance of public officers (which RHA employees are not), public service handbooks, SWRHA manuals, ancient letters and instructions the origin of which nobody can trace.

The nonsense which passes for industrial relations throughout the RHA system was exemplified by the attack launched by the Minister of Health last Christmas on nurses’ commitment to their patients - the same seemingly bipolar politician who in one breath threatens to close down hospitals, fire local nurses and import thousands of foreign nurses and in another breath talks about giving them housing allowances and praising them to the skies for their dedication.

But what do you expect from an individual who wanted to be minister of health in the morning and millionaire surgeon in the evening. To make matters worse, Dan Mahabirsingh, an NCRHA reject, was put in charge of Industrial Relations and in a few short months, he has totally destabilised the relationship between employer and employee. He has upset shift arrangements that have been in place for years and is trying to force an eight hour cycle into a seven day week. Overtime pay arrangements have all gone to hell under his watch and he has now issued instructions that no union representatives will be given time off with pay to handle workers’ grievances.

This industrial relations “expert” does not seem to know that every worker has the right to raise grievances with their immediate supervisor in the first instance and if there is no accepted dispute handling procedure (which the NHWU has proposed and from which he keeps ducking) a normal part of which is that union reps be afforded time off with pay to handle said grievances, he is laying the foundation for anarchy and wildness in the employer-employee relationship.

But then what can you expect of an individual whose attitude towards the union reeks of discourtesy through slow responses to agreed upon disclosures, the switching of meeting places at the last minute and a refusal to deal in an equitable manner with the NHWU.

He should take note of the old creole saying who doh hear go feel!

vol 1 no 1.pub
Gerry Kangalee,
16 Apr 2015, 19:33