Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 7th 2015 Contents A7
Saturday, February 7, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
For most of yesterday, scores of
workers at the San Fernando Gen-
eral Hospital stayed off the job as
they took action against manage-
ment for the non-payment of over-
time and poor working conditions.
But when Public Service Associ-
ation (PSA) president Watson Duke
ordered them to take ten minutes to
gather their colleagues and return
to the reception area for a sit out,
an hour had passed with many of
them failing to return.
Some nurses whose shifts had
ended took up their bags and left.
There was a large showing of
nurses, nursing assistants, ward
maids and other staff at the reception
area yesterday, cheering on Duke s
promises to initiate overtime pay-
ments and a new roster.
They followed him to the San Fer-
nando Teaching Hospital for a meet-
ing with South West Regional Health
Authority (SWRHA) CEO Anil
Gosine and even defended him dur-
ing a confrontation with security
over the use of an emergency exit.
After the meeting, Duke said the
management could not produce a
proper fire certificate and called on
workers to leave the wards when
they became indecisive.
However, he said, workers were
taking time to deliberate and the
PSA s intention was not to shut down
Asked if the nurses were afraid,
Duke said, "Of course not, nurses
are quite comfortable taking that
action. One must understand that
this is new to them and they have
to go back up and explain to everyone
what has taken place and spend
"We are not looking for a shut
down here today. We are just simply
testing the waters today and I think
more than ever before, we have gen-
erated a level of discussion as you
"What is going to happen today
and tomorrow is that the nurses will
become more and more knowl-
edgable about the wrongs that are
being committed against them."
Duke said the SWRHA had agreed
orally to return the workers roster
to eight-hour shifts, which would
be followed by two days off. He said
they also agreed to replace pool pay-
ment for work outside the normal
working hours with overtime rates.
Duke advised workers that from
yesterday, they should start filling
out overtime forms as the union
would be seeking back pay from
2009 to 2014, which would make
each worker "close to millionaires."
Part of a heavy-duty chiller that
slammed into Shedine Hernandez
body in the explosion at El Pecos may
have saved the life of the mother of
On Thursday, an explosion in El
Pecos kitchen in Royal Palm Plaza, Mar-
aval, destroyed five food outlets and
injured 16 people.
Hernandez, 28, who has worked at
El Pecos for 12 years as a cook, sustained
burns on her face and arms. However,
her relatives state that the explosions
could have been fatal had the chiller
not slammed into Hernandez.
"Either God or an angel saved my
daughter," a distraught Michelle Her-
nandez told T&T Guardian at the High
Dependency Unit of the Port-of-Spain
Michelle said Shedine received burns
on her face and her arms but the rest
of her body was relatively untouched
by the flames because the chiller covered
her body, somewhat protecting her.
"My son who is up in heaven now
saved my daughter s life," Michelle said.
Hernandez was able to free herself
of the chiller and climb over a damaged
wall into the next door restaurant, Hurry
Curry, where she and another co-worker
made their escape.
When the T&T Guardian tried to
speak to Hernandez, she was only able
to mumble that she was experiencing
pain in her back and arms. She said she
was also missing "bits and pieces" of
her memory from the explosion and
she would need help from a co-worker
to recall all the events.
Owner of the El Pecos Restau-
rant at Royal Palm Plaza in Mar-
aval, Richard Camacho, says
while he has an idea what may
have caused an explosion at his
business place on Thursday, he
prefers not to divulge any infor-
mation as investigations are con-
Camacho said the business,
which occupied one of the spots
on the ground floor, was totally
He returned to the scene yes-
terday but said he was unable to
go "deep within" the restaurant
as he was still awaiting clearance
from the Fire Service.
Camacho said he had several
meetings immediately after the
incident. "At this present time they
have some ideas as to what is going
on but they are still assessing the
situation. I am really not at liberty
to say anything at this point
because I don t want conflicting
reports to get out there."
On whether he could give an
estimate of the cost of the damage,
Camacho said insurance adjusters
would be looking after that matter
as his first priority was to ensure
the well-being of his workers.
"I am not thinking about that
right now. I have to focus on my
employees and making sure they
get the help they need.
"But the entire place was totally
destroyed...from all the twisted
iron I saw there was really nothing
left. Burger King and myself got
hit the hardest," Camacho added.
He said some of his injured
employees were treated and dis-
charged but one was warded at
the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
"My family and I will continue
to pray for all the well-being of
my employees... even those who
are discharged we will ensure they
are all right," Camacho said.
He said some 16 people were
injured, some of whom suffered
Preliminary reports from fire
officers suggest that the explosion
was triggered when a gas hose
received a puncture.
It is also believed a metal part
of the hose which was being
dragged caused the spark.
The North Plant LPG Inc was
delivering fuel at the time of
Thursday s explosion. The com-
pany is located at Gaston Street,
Contacted on Thursday and also
several times yesterday, a
spokesman at the gas company
said no one was available for com-
ment as all managers were locked
in a meeting.
Messages left were also not
Chiller blocked the flames
'An angel saved
Judith Baliram, CEO of the North
West Regional Health Authority
(NWRHA), said two out of the 11
people who were taken to the Port-of-
Spain General Hospital had been
discharged. One was discharged on
Thursday and the other was
discharged yesterday. The remaining
nine persons were warded for
Though T&T has not yet established
an official burn unit, Baliram said, "The
burns can be treated comfortably in
Port-of-Spain General Hospital. At the
moment all the patients are being
treated. If advance treatment is
needed from the other facilties, we will
seek that assistance accordingly."
Baliram added that all the patients
were currently in stable condition. She
said the hospital also had a plastic
surgery unit to tend to the patients'
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said
though the country did not have an
official burn unit, such injuries could be
treated in any surgical unit. However,
Augustus Long Hospital at Pointe-a-
Pierre and Eric Williams Medical
Sciences Complex in Mt Hope had
specialised facilities to treat burns if
necessary, he said.
"Whatever services we can provide,
we will. Others will seek external help.
External means abroad if necessary,"
Khan added that he had confidence
that the surgical unit and the plastic
surgery unit would be able to treat the
HOSPITAL WELL EQUIPPED
Shedine Hernandez at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital
Owner's prayers with employees
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