Home / Wellness / Health / Kangalee: Gov’t bamboozling nurses with bonus while they suffer on short-term rollover contracts

Kangalee: Gov’t bamboozling nurses with bonus while they suffer on short-term rollover contracts

“[…] Many [health care workers] are working under short term contracts—some as short as three months—[and] have been subjected to continual rollovers of their short term contracts and who have been employed continuously for 15 years and more.

“[…] Instead of abolishing the short term-rollover contract system, coming up with a decent wage increase and solving the problem of staff shortages […] they have decided to put butter around health care workers’ mouths by giving them one month’s salary as a bonus for their work in dealing with Covid…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the Government’s proposed bonus for health care workers was submitted to Wired868 by Gerry Kangalee of Rambert Village:

Photo: Many health care workers at RHA’s work on short-term rolling contracts.

Government has decided to pay one month’s salary as a bonus to health care workers. These workers have not had a salary increase since 2014. Monthly paid workers in the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) (barring doctors in the South West Regional Health Authority) are not represented by a recognised majority union.

Many of them are working under short term contracts—some as short as three months. While a fixed term contract has a starting date and an ending date, there are workers in the system at all levels who have been subjected to continual rollovers of their short term contracts and who have been employed continuously for 15 years and more.

On 4 October 2021, during his delivery of the budget speech, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert stated: “I have also been advised that several nurses in the Regional Health Authorities are employed on temporary contracts.

“As a result, I have instructed the Chief Personnel Officer to investigate this situation and its implication for pension arrangements and recommend solutions to ensure that the employment contracts of these nurses are regularised. I expect this exercise will be completed by the end of December 2021.”

Photo: Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2021)

Surprise! Surprise! Like many other politicians’ promises, 10 months have gone and nurses have not been regularised. Oh well, we know the old saying: a promise is comfort to a fool.

While the Minister specified nurses, the short term-rollover contract system applied to many more health care workers and not just nurses.

Workers affected include enrolled nursing assistants, doctors, laboratory technicians, orderlies, administrative personnel, phlebotomists, radiographers, pharmacists, dietetic and nutrition personnel, health, safety and environment personnel, and medical social workers among others.

So, instead of abolishing the short term-rollover contract system, coming up with a decent wage increase and solving the problem of staff shortages, what has the government done?

Photo: Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh (centre) poses with health workers at the Freeport Health Centre.
(via MoH)

They have decided to put butter around health care workers’ mouths by giving them one month’s salary as a bonus for their work in dealing with Covid. At the end of a short term contract, workers are entitled to a gratuity. Some workers are owed as much as four years’ gratuity payment. Maybe, workers’ money does sleep out.

Contract labour has been in widespread use throughout the Regional Health Authorities in Trinidad and Tobago ever since the RHAs were established in the 1990’s.

Short term contract workers obviously suffer anxiety over their job security, are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing mortgage and other loans and credit facilities, can’t properly plan the future of their families or make significant investments and they are not entitled to be members of the Regional Health Authorities’ Pension Plan.

Even if they eventually become “permanent” and eligible to join the Pension Plan, the service they had before they became permanent would not be counted as service in the plan. It must be noted that the formula for calculating workers’ pension is based on a worker’s final salary and on years of service.

Photo: Nurses at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility.
(via NCRHA)

Government thinks they can bamboozle workers by distracting them with this bonus while ignoring long-standing grievances arising out of this so-called fixed term contract system. Time will tell if health care workers take the grip.

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
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One comment

  1. I am willing to assist any of these nurses to bring their valuable skills to the UK where they will be much appreciated.