On Friday, nurses engaged in a “blackout” action to highlight their complaints, spending a day of prayer where they were encouraged to pray for 24 hours by the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Nurses Association (TTRNA), Idi Stuart.
Speaking with PSA media a nurse stated that she felt like nurses did not get a say and that whatever they were told to do, they had no choice but to do it.
“The contract states eight hours and they have us working ten hours right now which is nine to seven, usually the shift is ten to six, they tried to force us to work seven to seven and we were kicking against it, so they come now and want us to work nine to seven.”Nobody sent us a memo, nobody asked us how we felt,” she said.
She further stated that when she worked ‘pool’ the money joined her salary and was taxed.”I think ‘pool’ is an extra effort, it is an extra shift that you’re working on so why is it being joined with your salary?” When it is joined with your salary and it is taxed more money comes out of your pay, when you work ‘pool’ and you’re expecting extra money in your pocket it’s like you’re getting less for nothing because they’re taxing it and taking back the majority of it.”
‘Pool’ is when qualified nurses sign up to work a shift when floors have nursing shortages.
It is very frustrating and a lot to deal with, she stated to PSA Media.
Another issue that the nurses are facing is the money owed to them and the fact that they are still working on a 2013 salary. “They gave us six-month contracts because they don’t want to pay the yearly gratuity money, yet they bring in those Cuban nurses and give them a three-year-contracts.”
Nurses once employed by the Regional Health Authority (RHA) are on probation for six months and once they fulfill the requirements are to be put on permanent contracts, however, that is not being done and instead, the nurses work on short-term contracts.
The nurse ended the interview by stating that it would take not just the efforts of the nurses but the effort of all hospital personnel to see a change with continued effort. The actions of the nurses came after ‘TTUTTA’ had their own ‘blackout’ on their grievance with the government over lack of consultation with the resumption of physical classes.