Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 22nd 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 21ST APRIL, 2015
Firefighters, sanitation and postal workers
and nursing personnel at the Maternity
Department, Port-of-Spain General Hospital,
embarked on protest action in Port-of-Spain
yesterday, as they pressed for resolution to
The nurses, who embarked on industrial
action on Monday after an attack on one of
their colleagues, continued their protest as
they expressed disgust over Health Minister
Dr Fuad Khan's questioning of their commit-
ment to the job. However, the other groups
started their actions yesterday.
The angry nurses yesterday turned the
tables on Khan by asking him if he had ever
faced the hardships they currently experience
on a daily basis, including verbal and physical
abuse by patients, threats to their lives and
even acts of vandalism and theft at the hos-
Insisting their two-day action did not affect
the level of care to patients, the nurses began
protesting outside the Maternity Department
from 8 am and continued during a two-hour
security meeting attended by president of the
T&T Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA),
Gwendolyn Loobie-Snaggs, general manager
of Nursing Care and the head of security at
But nurses were unhappy with Khan's sug-
gestion that the TTRNA was in a "war" with
the Public Services Association (PSA) "over
turf" and the right to defend nursing personnel
across the country.
"The minister's tone appears to have become
anti-nurse but despite all the abuse we face
on a daily basis, we continue to provide care
to patients under whatever conditions we have
to endure," Loobie-Snaggs said, noting that
the minister seemed not to be taking their
The association is also calling for an apology
Loobie-Snaggs confirmed that Heller Secu-
rity Services, the firm which previously pro-
vided security for the ward, was yesterday
replaced by Security Analyst Services (SAS),
which is owned by former national security
minister Gary Griffith.
According to its FaceBook profile, the SAS
range of services includes security officers,
special event security, VIP security, cash in
transit, sport event security, residential and
commercial security management.
SAS officers took up duty at the Maternity
Department yesterday morning.
Loobie-Snaggs said the SAS officers would
now be subject to specialist training "relative
to the environment they will be operating in."
President of the Fire Service Association Leo
Ramkissoon says firefighters are threatening to
take action regarding the non-provision of gov-
ernment housing to members.
The association is calling on Minister of Housing
Roodal Moonilal or the Prime Minster Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar to intervene.
Ramkissoon was referring to the ten per cent
housing which is supposed to be allocated to offi-
cers of the Defence Force, Fire Services, Police
and Prison Services.
During the past few weeks, the Housing Devel-
opment Corporation has given out 100 houses
weekly to applicants and last week gave out 500
homes in a lottery draw.
Moonilal has been quoted as saying the provision
for the protective services has been more than
the amount allocated at some of the distribu-
However, in a telephone interview yesterday,
Ramkissoon said he had no information that fire-
fighters have been beneficiaries of any part of the
ten per cent of housing allocated to the protective
He added: "We demand the minister or the
Prime Minister put something in place so we can
access housing allocated for protective services.
"Fire officers have not been given housing pro-
vision under the government policy of ten per
cent of all housing under the Housing Development
Corporation for several years. We note with great
displeasure the Government statement that officers
have been in receipt of this and that is totally
untrue. The association will not tolerate this."
In fact, Ramkissoon said several firefighters cur-
rently have nowhere to live and reside out of their
cars or live at the dormitories in the fire stations.
"Three officers live out of their cars and some
sleep in fire stations because they can't afford to
pay the rent and they have to sleep somewhere.
They can't sleep on the streets so they stay in the
dormitory," he said.
He said firefighters place their lives in danger
every day for the public but at the end of their
duty have nowhere to go.
"They will develop chronic respiratory illnesss
due to inhalation of toxic fumes from hazardous
and combustible material and feel totally unap-
preciated and ignored by the Minister of Housing
and Government by extension," he said.
Ramkissoon said some firefighters are also under
threat from living in communities affected by
"Fire officers are viewed as an impediment to
that type of action and their lives are in threat.
Fire officers are appealing for provision to relocate
and get proper homes. Some have families and
children and are unable to secure a home on the
open market," he added.
Nurses stage day two of protest...
Heat for Fuad
over 'war' claim
A Security Analyst Services (SAS) officer allows a doctor to enter the maternity ward at the
Port-of-Spain General Hospital yesterday. The security firm took up duties after Monday's
protest by nurses following an attack on Sunday by a patient on a nurse. PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
On Monday, nurses complained that
security officers previously assigned to
the facility had refused to intervene in
confrontations between medical personnel
and patients, as they claimed they were
only assigned to preserve the physical
Heartened by the fact that work had
already begun regarding the installation of
panic buttons and closed-circuit television
cameras throughout the Maternity
Department yesterday, Loobie-Snaggs
said that was among the promises made
on Monday to improve security measures.
She said other measures would take
longer to be introduced but said she hoped
the camera network and panic button
systems would both be completed by mid-
May. Security escorts during the night
were also implemented yesterday.
The posting of liability notices on the
compound warning of penalties to
patients who abuse nursing personnel had
bene put on hold, Loobie-Snaggs said, as
they were awaiting advice from the legal
Other measures, such as the
establishment of a police post and the
introduction of a liability form to be signed
by patients, are also being considered.
Other personnel yesterday confirmed
that workmen were seen on the premises
installing electrical wiring and making
notes of the various access points into
and out of the facility, as the North West
Regional Health Authority moves towards
fencing some of the areas which ought
not to be accessed by the public.
Addressing statements by Khan that
the TTRNA and the PSA were unclear as
to which union represented nursing
personnel, vice- chairman of the Northern
Branch of the TTRNA, Kerne Ramnath,
"The minister's statements were
erroneous and reckless. This is not a battle
between unions. The PSA is free to speak
but the TTRNA is a legitimate union for
and behalf of nurses in the country. We
are not at war with the PSA."
On Monday, Loobie-Snaggs revealed
that the TTRNA had officially received
certification as a trade union in July 2014
and was free to represent nursing
personnel attached to all public
institutions in T&T.
On the threat by Khan to replace local
nurses with foreign ones, Ramnath said
although there was a great disparity in the
terms and conditions for local and foreign
nurses, the abuse by patients would
remain the same regardless of to whom it
He said Government was spending
millions of dollars to ensure foreign nurses
enjoyed greater benefits than local nurses
but they were the ones currently "holding
up the hospitals."
NEW SECURITY MEASURES
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