Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 18th 2015 Contents A13
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-
Bissessar has accused the People s
National Movement (PNM) adminis-
tration of hounding officials out of office
when politicians cannot get their way.
She said Central Bank Governor Jwala Ram-
barran was just the latest victim of a pattern of
behaviour from previous PNM administrations.
Persad-Bissessar was speaking at a ceremony to
install the party s new executive on Wednesday at
the auditorium of the Couva South MP at Camden
Road, Couva. Her slate was victorious in the December
5 internal party polls.
"They have never changed. They victimised Chief
Justice (Sat) Sharma, former Speaker of the House
Occah Seapaul and the same way now they are hoping
to hound down the Governor of the Central Bank
out of office.
"He followed their instructions. He disclosed the
ones getting their share of the foreign exchange.
They asked for it and when he gave the answer, they
want to hound him out of office," she added.
Persad-Bissessar said the PNM had mixed up its
priorities and was playing the blame game to hide
incompetence while giving public servants the shaft.
She said public servants should be given interest
on the monies the Government owed them in back
She added: "They have $90 million for the Brian
Lara Stadium but not one penny to pay workers of
this country. They have refused to open the children s
hospital, they have cancelled free health care for
patients with chronic diseases but they are borrowing
billions for a rapid rail system that nobody wants.
"Rowley is refusing to honour back pay commit-
ments and is telling people they must consider it as
savings. Well Dr Rowley you are farse and out of
place to tell people what to do with their money and
if it is savings make sure you add interest when you
pay the people.
"As a government we never deprived people of
their wages. We invested heavily in infrastructure,
health care, education, social services, poverty erad-
ication, strengthening national security and earning
a respectable place in the international communi-
ty."Persad-Bissessar recalled that when she assumed
office as prime minister in 2010 her administration
was saddled with billions of dollars in debt inherited
from the PNM, including the $20 billion for the Clico
fiasco and billions more owed to contractors and
dozens of outstanding industrial agreements.
She claimed that in just three months the PNM
Government had started to unravel.
She said: "Just a few months ago we were a country
on the move. Today we are seeing a reversal. Every-
thing is at standstill.
"People are getting fired every day; the state sector
is freezing wages and refusing to pay people bonuses
for their hard work.
"Today instead of talking about a bright future,
people are now just worrying about survival, thinking
about whether they would have jobs tomorrow, how
they would feed their families and educate their chil-
"They are anxious about the future and for good
reason. They are also deeply concerned
about their personal safety," she said.
A day after Public Services Associ-
ation president Watson Duke rallied
nurses at the San Fernando General Hos-
pital for possible industrial action, the
National Health Workers Union (NHWU) have
followed suit, saying unless working conditions
improve and arrears are settled, action or inaction
For the third time for the week the hospital foyer
was scene of a demonstration as health care workers
held a protest and discussed the arrears from a 14
per cent increase that was agreed upon by the South
West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) and the
union in 2011.
The workers also complained they have not been
paid pool and overtime since July month-end and
have been working with serious shortages of medicine
and materials that have been severely affecting patient
In an interview yesterday, NHWU public relations
officer Kern Webb said while the workers were com-
mitted to giving 110 per cent, they are frustrated by
not receiving their monies.
He said it was critically important that the SWRHA
pay workers now as T&T was on the brink of a reces-
"We have bills, we have mortgages, we have children
to see about, we have Christmas, we have New Year s,
we have so many challenges facing us.
"Give us what is owed to us and with that buffer,
it can sustain us or partially through this recession.
It is important that as health care employees that
we stand and be counted as integral in the process
of economic growth and development," Webb added.
He said the longer the SWRHA took to settle the
arrears, the more the figure owed would rise. He said
while there were various ranges of salaries, some
workers were owed between $60,000 to just over
Webb said although nurses were also owed over-
time, they have continued to work extra hours because
of a shortage of clinical and medical staff.
He said since the opening of the San Fernando
Teaching Hospital, staff have been stretched to cover
With the Children s Hospital in Couva coming on
stream, he foresees a greater strain on staff as he
believes the country is not in a strong financial
position to recruit foreign nurses.
Union advocate, Carl-Ann St John, said the wards
were short of medication, linens, pillows and cases
and sometimes they have to line patients bed with
blue paper (info pad).
"Sometimes we have to put blue paper on the beds
and tape them down. We can t put patients on the
bed just like that. Sometimes we put the info pad,
which is the blue paper with the cotton in it. We
have shortage of medication, so we have
to be borrowing medication," she added.
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