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Aug 29, 2001

Nurses in the north threaten strike

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The nursing staff at the Northern Regional Hospital is so frustrated with their working conditions, they have threatened to take industrial action if things do not improve. At an emergency meeting called on Tuesday, the staff agreed that if officials from the Ministry of Health do not meet with them by Friday, they will be forced to take serious counter measures. Public Service Union President Margaret Ventura says the issues range from a lack of resources to discrimination.

Margaret Ventura, President, P.S.U.

“They have a whole series of problems that they have been experiencing, ranging from deplorable working conditions, shortage of staff, the physical environment, insufficient and inadequate medical supplies and equipment, a whole range of critical problems. The nurses have gotten together and have written to officials at the Ministry of Health and copied to the union, and asked for the union’s intervention on the matters. They did list in thecorrespondence to the ministry that they have been having transportation problems even before Tropical Storm Chantal last week.

The problems also evolve around non-Belizean nurses getting access to transportation to and from work and the Belizean nurses do not have that same facility, Cubans and Nigerians. During Chantal, some were transported and comments were made by the nursing staff that they were passed along the way. But the conditions under which they have come to work in Belize, seems to require transportation and that is given. But it is totally unfair that the other nurses do not enjoy the same facility.

The Ministry of Health has been for the past two years and has made a lot of public statements on health sector reform and all the good that health sector reform will bring for health in Belize. That is commendable, but I believe that we need to begin with the bread and butter issues affecting the workforce. Without the workers, we can’t go no where.”

News 5 made several attempts to contact Ministry of Health CEO, Henry Anderson, for comment on this matter but all were unsuccessful. Minister of Health Joe Coye was also unavailable for comment as he is out of the country.

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