Caswell Franklyn: A Nurse’s Cry

A call to Bajans at home and abroad

Submitted by Tee White

The attached recording, of a striking nurse phoning into Down to Brass Tacks, needs no explanation. This moving call speaks for itself. The issue is what we as Bajans are going to do about the situation. As the saying goes, evil triumphs when good people do nothing. We have a responsibility to take a stand in defence of the nurses and to condemn the government’s attempts to starve them into submission. We can raise our voices, especially in this election period, and demand that the government stop its attacks on them and sit down with their representatives to address their issues. We can also donate to their strike fund. Bank details are presented at the end of the transcript. We have a responsibility to the striking nurses. Let’s take it up.

A striking nurse phoning into Down to Brass Tacks 29/12/2021

For those of you who have or are not able to listen to the phone in call, a transcript is below.

Nurse: It was always said to us “It’s not the right time to strike. It’s not the right time to take action. Just wait. We’re going to talk and see what happens”. This has been years and nurses are now to the point, just fed up. It’s real hard every day you go to work. And the conditions you have to work in and you’re not seeing a salary at the end of the month. You’re overworked, overlooked and you’re still expected to come work with a smile on your face and work to the best of your ability.

I myself have gone more than four months without a salary. I have colleagues that have gone longer and it’s hard. You are at work. You owe the nursery, you owe the bank and no one wants to hear “oh I didn’t get my salary yet”. They’re still calling you expecting you to pay them. So I have all that stress from elsewhere on me. I’m still not receiving my salary.

Persons are saying that we’re only making noise about hazard pay. That is not the case. Nurses are not even receiving their regular salary and it’s hard. They’re saying even not only a basic salary, nurses have also gone on to be qualified, even if it’s a psychiatric nurse, a geriatric nurse, we go and specialise. You’re not even receiving the money that you’re supposed to get on your salary for these qualifications. There are nurses that have gone over ten years and have not got the increase on their salary.

And persons think this is fair. They’re saying it’s Covid times, things are going on. We shouldn’t be doing this. But look at it. Would you, yourself, go and work?

Would you continue to do that? There are times you don’t see ‘go to the bathroom’, you work through lunch, you work through break just to make sure that your patients are good. But you, yourself, your health is deteriorating. But no one is looking at you and it’s hard.

The prime minister came on and said she gave the nurses hazard pay. Persons were appointed. If there were 600 nurses and you appointed two, what happened to the other four? My thing is, the other four will still have problems and they said they gave hazard pay. To my knowledge, a lot of my colleagues have not

received hazard pay for the month of December either. Seen not a cent of this hazard pay.

And I go to work. Where I work, I have been spat on. I have been hit, cussed. I have went through it and it’s just frustrating and hard to hear persons saying that we don’t care and we still go to work in all these conditions and they’re saying we do not care. How could that be?

Phone in host: I’m really sorry to hear this call and all of the things that you have expressed. Tell me, what do you think is going to happen over the next few weeks while we are waiting for an election? Do you think you will get any resolution? Are you willing to go to the work in the interim?

Nurse: No and it was very interesting that she did not hear out the nurses and our problems before they even run and do that. That meeting that was supposed to be held was cancelled. You did not hear all our problems, and you are saying that this is a critical time in terms of health care, and you did not hear out the nurses that are on the front line. How dare you?

Nurses have families at home. There were many nurses that had not seen a salary for December, and they have families. When you were home having your meals, what were they doing and telling their children? But no we’re to come to work every day with a smile on our face.

They’re saying they didn’t have enough nurses, so they had to bring in nurses.

Ask them why they didn’t have enough nurses. Because persons from England are recruiting our nurses. Persons from the States are recruiting our nurses because we are really good nurses. So if they’re recruiting our nurses, the nurses, are leaving because you’re not treating us right. The nurses have no choice than to leave. It’s been years we have been asking. We have been asking to be heard we are not being heard. If someone else is recruiting us, why should we stay?

Phone in host: This is really difficult to listen to, not because anything that you said is wrong. But I can hear the pain in your voice. And I really do hope that something can come of this, because it is really important that we treat those on the front lines, our health care professionals much better. You are very important to us to our healthcare system, and you need to be treated properly. So I hope that you will get some kind of resolution. I hope it will be sooner rather than later. And I don’t know what is going to happen in these three weeks leading up to the election, but I hope that something is being put in place at the level of your union to assist those of you who are on strike. And I hope that you all are able to make a decision that benefits you in terms of whether you will remain on strike or go back to work. But thanks.

The strike fund of the nurses can be supported by making donations to:

Unity Workers Union

Republic Bank (Warrens), Barbados

Account # 108291982001

Transit# 00010

SWIFT BNBABBBB

109 comments

  • I thought the nurses at the hospital were being paid on time . No???

    Like

  • Yes they are even the few who are “sicking out” in support.

    Like

  • Critical Analyzer

    @John2 January 1, 2022 12:21 PM

    No, some nurses in the hospital are not paid every month. I have no idea how many are affected but it is definitely not zero.

    The problem applies to all medical facilities under the government umbrella whether managed by Central government or SOE.

    Like

  • @ CA

    The issue of nurses not being paid at the QEH is not a systematic issue to compare with the non SEO health institutions.

    Like

  • Here we go

    When I first read the report I thought it was the nurses just refusing to work through the lunch (hr)

    As it reported and I can see it happening that often the nurses work through their breaks

    Like

  • Critical Analyzer

    @David January 1, 2022 12:50 PM

    Maybe it is not affecting as many nurses at the QEH as in the other non SOE but the issue happens at the QEH. Everyone things systematic issues are not systematic until people sit down and count the number affected, duration and frequency of the issues.

    The only mistake Caswell made was in not publishing his own official press release. The public knowing how many nurses are paid sporadically, how many months pay is outstanding and how many times over the last year or two they have not been paid does not compromise union negotiations nor membership privacy but it does make the public aware how systemic the problem is.

    Like

  • Strike bites at QEH weekend care

    Article by Barbados Today
    Published on
    January 4, 2022

    The more than five-week strike action by nurses represented by the Unity Workers Union (UWU) is about to intensify with a planned march this week.

    This announcement from union leader Caswell Franklyn comes days after allied nurses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) reportedly did not report for work. Barbados TODAY was informed that this action of solidarity affected several wards at the island’s lone tertiary healthcare facility. According to a source, who asked not to be named, wards B6 and B7, A1 and A2 were most affected having onl a skeleton staff available on the obstetrics block. “For the whole weekend A&E [Accident and Emergency] was in potta and Psychi was in a mess too,” the source said.

    Executive Chairman of the QEH Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, told Barbados TODAY that she was reluctant to get into the ongoing conflict between the UWU and the Ministry of Health but acknowledged they were short of nurses this past weekend. She was unable to confirm if this shortage was as a result of the strike action or what she believed was the normal absenteeism rate during the holiday season.

    “The nursing staff on hand work really hard and we deployed an all-hands-on deck approach to ensure our patients remained safe. We borrowed staff from HP [Harrison Point] and Sunbay to meet the needs of QEH patients. A number of staff are due back from leave this week which should alleviate the situation. The dedicated staff worked extra hours to serve the needs of Barbados. I move around the hospital to let the staff know that they are appreciated,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.

    “We are doing the best we can at the QEH to maintain patient safety and ensure our patients are cared for. When strike action is taken the only people that suffer are patients so we are monitoring the situation very closely to ensure that we protect the public of Barbados,” she added.

    However, a nurse maintained that in her more than a decade in nursing, she was sure there was nothing “normal” about the shortages reported this weekend.

    “We ain’t want to got the place in a mess. . . we really want to get back to work, we just want what is ours – simple,” she lamented.

    Franklyn agreed while reiterating those matters which they were championing on the behalf of all nurses, among them the 170 in his membership. These included: better working conditions, health insurance; better nurse-to-patient ratios, remuneration for degrees, advancement and continuous training and better pay.

    As it relates to this week’s planned march, the outspoken trade unionist said it will be dependent on the head of the COVID Monitoring Unit.

    He said: “Because of the pandemic we have to get permission from them, unions don’t need permission from anyone else. Under normal circumstances unions just march. Of course, we would inform the Commissioner of Police rather than asking for permission because the commissioner under the Public Order Act is required to give permission to people who want to march but no such permission is required for unions. So, we will inform him when we are ready and then go from there.”

    Franklyn expressed his willingness to continue discussions with the director general of the Public Service Gail Atkins to remedy the nurses’ grouses for Barbados’ benefit, but he claimed that this desire has not been reciprocated by the other end.

    “We have not seen her [director general] in any negotiations recently. We have seen politicians usurping her role and taking over what she should be doing. . . . She has a job to do and she must do it. Let’s say the government changes would you expect a new prime minister to jump in the things? No! What happens is the public service is permanent and they are supposed to be dealing with these issues. Politicians get involved with these because they can’t help themselves and they take over the role of the civil servant and they are not doing theirs. She is the person I contacted to inform about the strike action. She is the person authorised and whose job it is to deal with industrial relations in the public service, not the prime minister, not Bostic. And somehow these civil servants are so afraid of the politicians that they sit back and let the politicians deal with their matters,” Franklyn said. (KC)

    Source: Barbados Today

    Like

  • I have all respect for Caswell. Don’t always agree. Sometimes he is dead wrong but, respect due.

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    “Heaven help us all” – Luciano

    ‘Just observing

    Like

  • These issues should have been solved long ago but when you have issue of politics in unions, in HR departments, in government institutions and overall lack of focus on the real issues we get this type of result. I don’t believe anyone should have to wait three months to get a salary or wage for work already done. We have person’s hired at high levels who get paid quite quick for work that’s not done or done to standard. It’s all about uncaring people who get promote to high positions by means other than good overall performance. and implement uncaring policies.

    Like

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