Health and postal workers in Trinidad and Tobago have been out on strike this week over hospital overcrowding and pay and conditions respectively.
Accident and Emergency staff carried out a mass sick day strike at San Fernando General Hospital on the 16th of April in protest at overcrowding. Overcrowding has gotten so bad at the hospital, that the asthma room, a room supposed to be dedicated for those awaiting emergency asthma treatment, is being used as a holding bay for those awaiting hospital beds. Patients admitted for emergency asthma treatment also complained of overcrowding in the asthma room.
One nurse said: "How much longer are we supposed to work under these conditions? The administration has transferred the overcrowding from upstairs to downstairs."
There has been a perennial shortage of beds in the medical wards and patients are even kept overnight in the asthma room, with no facilities for showering. The nurses have raised the problems with the authority, "but no one listens to what we have to say".
The action by staff at the hospital lasted two days but they have promised to resume their protest if the management does not solve the problem of the overcrowding of patients.
Meanwhile, postal workers have also been on strike, closing approximately 90% of post offices throughout the country. There was little to no postal delivery for three days from the 16th April as workers engaged in 'work-to-rule' action while others stayed at home for “rest and reflection due to the stressful conditions under which they have been forced to work.”
The strike has affected delivery officers, mail officers, customer service representatives, sales and marketing officers, finance and accounts officers and postal assistants.
The postal workers downed tools in protest against management’s failure to expedite a quick resolution to the pay negotiations for the period 2005/2007. Further strike action is expected from the postal workers in the coming days.
The Association has proposed a 15 percent increase for 2005/2006, $450 and a nine percent increase for 2006/2007, a six percent increase for 2007/2008 and $225 and a five percent increase for 2008/2009.