Nurses in Jamaica have been locked in an acrimonious battle related to compensatory and salary benefits for as long as I can remember. Each successive government has inherited the verbal tussle and occasional sick out or all out strike standoff, peppered with strong statements and ultimatums from each side that typifies Jamaica's industrial climate. The Union representing the island's nurses have also been thrown into the cultural, industrial, cauldronic mix, creating lots of entertainment on the nightly news even while people sympathized with the nurses.
At the crux of this drawn out and very heated battle has been acolourful figure, the longstanding head of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, Edith Allwood-Anderson. The bane of successive governments, she is the heroine of the local nurses. Mrs. Allwood-Anderson's exploits and many interesting wigs have made her into a public figure.
|One wig Upclose|
She has been spoken out frequently and strongly against successive Jamaican governments for failing to pay often promised retroactive payments and she has been equally vocal and adamant with requests for salary increases for the island's nurses. A few months ago, apparently fed-up with the delay tactics of the Jamaica Labour Party, (JLP) government which, while it was in opposition, promised to hike the nurse's pay by 200% if they were elected, Mrs. Anderson advised Jamaica's nurses on national television to immigrate to other countries where they would be compensated better for their services than in Jamaica. The JLP's unfulfilled promise to the nurses was one of many reneged political promises the party had used to secure crucial votes to get them into office after being in political opposition for 18 years.
I was dismayed at Mrs. Allwood-Anderson instructions to the nurses, but recent developments may have served to reinforce and validity her stormy position. The article below was published in the The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper Monday | October 18, 2010 and written by: Nedburn Thaffe. I find the article VERY disturbing.
|Mrs. Allwood-Anderson & some KEY JLP officials|
Monday | October 18, 2010
Citing bureaucratic roadblocks and a lack of organisational support from the Jamaican Government, a company contracted to source employment in Canada for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) here in Jamaica has vowed to cut all ties with the island in six months.
Professor Michael Patterson, spokesperson for the recruiters, Marmicmon Integrated Marketing and Communications (Marmicmon IMC), has questioned the Govern-ment's commitment to stemming unemployment, and said he was fed up with its penchant for lip service instead of tangible assistance.
He warned that the recruitment agency would be taking its service to another country after March 2011 when the last cohort is expected to complete its studies.
Last year, a number of students enrolled in the programme were promised full-time job offers by Canadian employers, provided that they successfully complete their studies. Marmicmon IMC was credited for wooing the employers to Jamaica.
Marmicmon was contracted in 2009 after the Government of Jamaica and the Centre for Nursing Studies in Canada forged a partnership to provide training for students through the Pre-University School in Kingston and Montego Bay, using the Canadian curriculum.
Patterson, who was one of the presenters at the graduation ceremony for 77 LPNs on Saturday, cited the Government's failure to provide direct access to hospitals and other facilities for students to complete their clinicals as one of the major snags that have put a dent in the programme. According to Patterson, the lack of support became even more evident when officials in the health ministry turned down offers from his Canadian partners, who stated their intention to upgrade several "dilapidated" health facilities across the island so students could have access to conduct their clinicals.
He said overtures to have the Nursing Council of Jamaica assess the curriculum were met with a cold shoulder.
"The bottom line is there was nothing happening from the Jamaican Government or the bureaucrats to assist (the programme).
"Come March, we will have completed all the programmes in Jamaica and that's it, we are pulling out. We will move the programme to a different country where the governments are not interested in politics but more interested in providing education and jobs for people," Patterson said.
The Marmicmon liaison also accused the Government of reneging on its responsibilities under a memorandum of understanding, charging that despite a shortage of licensed practical nurses in Canada, the North American government had no intention of lowering its standards.
"The Canadian government and the officials in Canada in the form of the regulators ... will not be complicit in allowing one foreign graduate to enter the health system when they are not suitably qualified. We must meet the standard which is equal to study in a Canadian institution," he said.
"The support that programmes like these need from the Jamaican Government is not handshakes, it's not platitudes, it is direct access to the facilities that will allow students to complete their programme," Patterson said, adding that a number of the students would have finished their studies earlier if they had had access to facilities to do clinicals.
When The Gleaner contacted Health Minister Rudyard Spencer for comment yesterday afternoon, he said he could not speak on the issue and referred the newspaper to Labour Minister Pearnel Charles. Efforts to contact Charles proved futile, as he was attending his mother's funeral.
For CRYING OUT ((LOUD!))!! & SMDH! Seriously! Some government official needs to respond to this!
The comments at the end of the article also provided interesting reading, as readers voiced their opinions on the issue.