The former Leader of the Opposition in the Barbados Parliament, Bishop Joseph Atherley, is reported to have questioned why this country continues to function under a state of emergency. In his response, the learned Attorney General, Dale Marshall, attempted to be condescending to the Bishop, rather than give an explanation that could stand up to scrutiny. I would not dignify his response by repeating it here. I would only say that his reasons made no sense as usual.
To my mind, there is now only one reason why the state of emergency continues in force, and that is to keep Cuban nurse slaves employed in Barbados. Under a state of emergency, Cabinet granted the Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, extraordinary power to make regulations, without reference to Parliament. One of the regulations that she made is the Emergency Management (Covid-19) (Nurses) Order 2020. That order, made on April 8, 2020 allows nurses, who are qualified to practice in Cuba, to work as nurses in Barbados throughout the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. If the state of emergency is lifted those 100 slave nurses will be heading back to Cuba.
You might be wondering why I call them slaves. The answer is simple; they are only given a stipend not anything near the salary paid to a qualified Barbadian nurse, which is contrary to the laws in this country and commitments made to the International Labour Organisation. In April 1952, Parliament passed the Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Act that sets out certain conditions that must be observed by employers, who contract with the government. The statute states that a contractor shall pay rates of wages and observe hours and conditions of labour not less favourable than those establish in the trade… At current pay rates, a registered nurse employed in the Public Service of Barbados has a starting salary of $3,206.41 per month and it rises incrementally on an annual basis until it reaches $4,452.61
Despite our laws, the Cuban Government has contracted with this country to receive a one-off payment of US $35,000 for 100 nurses. Put another way, the Cuban Government is renting nurses to Barbados at a peppercorn rate. In turn the Cuban slave nurses that are employed in this country receive only a pittance to purchase incidentals.
Barbados that has emerge from a slave society is now, with the aid of the Cuban Government, trafficking in nurses. These people are basically slaves. This situation is made worse since there are a significant number of people who were trained to be nurses by the Barbados Community College, who are unable to find employment here in their chosen field. Notwithstanding that state of affairs, this country is trafficking in Cuban slave nurses who, in many cases, are unable to speak English and therefore cannot communicate effectively with their Barbadian counterparts or patients and therefore patients’ lives are put at unnecessary risk.
Barbarian nurses and patients are suffering because of this ill-advised action taken by Cuba and Barbados. The book of Proverbs is absolutely right when it says at chapter 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan”.