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Nov 17, 2021

Incoming K.H.M.H. Workers Union President to Fight for Employee Pensions

Lydia Alpuche-Blake

Employees of Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital are all considered essential workers on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.  Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the staff has been stretched thin.  Lengthy working hours and less than favorable conditions have taken a toll on staff morale, but they remain committed to providing the best treatment that can be afforded at the facility.  Perhaps the greatest concern beyond the existing state of affairs is whether or not K.H.M.H. employees are pensionable.  The fear is that exposure to COVID-19 on the job puts members of staff at a higher risk of contracting the virus and there is no coverage for them.  It’s one of several issues a new K.H.M.H. Workers Union executive will have to grapple with.  According to outgoing president Lydia Alpuche-Blake, it’s something the union has been clamoring for since its inception.


Lydia Alpuche-Blake, Outgoing President, K.H.M.H. Workers Union

“We are a statutory body.  We don’t have a pension.  So whatever happens to the employees here, who will take care of us?  We will be having the COVID Unit in here and that will bring its own thing and like I told the prime minister in February when I met with him.  We can sit here and what we said would happen happened and we warned them, this and this and this would happen and exactly… I could give you the paper and share it and point by point it happened because we that are here toiling everyday know what we go through on a daily basis.  And then you bring on an additional stress on us which is the COVID Isolation Unit.  We already were short of staff, we already were short of materials, of infrastructure, of pay or whatever you want to put it.  The one thing that K.H.M.H. has that I and the union can say that the entire country does not have is that we have a set of dedicated staff that will go the extra mile no matter what.  So in February when we met with [Prime] Minister Briceño; we presented our case. And we stood up and said we’ve already sacrificed enough.  We don’t have a pension, we are challenging that at the court level.  We have gotten about seven opinions but they are all opinions and the only way it can be viable where it can stand is by taking it to the court.  So the other tenure of the union, that is the number one thing that the three candidates that are running are looking to seek for, the clarification of whether we are or are not pension able.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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