A recent comment by Public Service Union president Elroy Boucher has raised question of looming industrial action by public servants.
At a press conference at the union’s headquarters at Mc Kie’s Hill last week Wednesday, the union revisited attempts made to have a number of issues, particularly working conditions at the Mental Health and Rehabilitation Centre, addressed last year but their letters over months saw scant regard.
Boucher told reporters last week that the union was on the verge of industrial action but it was aborted after there was some movement which made them feel conditions were going to improve.
“We were going to take industrial action last year. And when we were about to do that there was a flurry of activities. And we got the impression that, well, okay, they got the message and things would be different. But things went back to normal until the workers say that the union really wasn’t doing enough,” Boucher said.
With the Covid-19 pandemic and requirements for certain established protocols to be adhered to, and the spike in positive cases at the Mental Health and Rehabilitation Centre the situation has grown more severe, according to the union.
At the press conference, the union charged that there was need to adequate availability of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers at the mental health facility at Glen and at the Glad Tidings camp site in Queen’s Drive which is currently being used to house over 100 mental health patients who tested positive recently for Covid-19.
“You see, this outbreak has really exposed all of the weaknesses. That is what it has done. So we will just wait and see how this thing is being handled. We will wait and see following this what the ministry or the government is willing to do with respect to mental health institutions before deciding with the workers what step to take,” the union president said.
Boucher said there is an opportunity for reform and he knew the ministry is in possession of a plan from a former senior health official as to how best to reform the institution.
“Maybe those pans are just lying, catching dust on a shelf. They need to take them out, take mental health seriously and try and find a way of alleviating some of the problems,” Boucher stated.