MattERs settled: Staff of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) during a midday protest outside the Ministry of Health's Park Street office yesterday in Port of Spain. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Fuad ends health protest

By Renuka Singh

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan yesterday stepped in and ended protest action by workers of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA). Approximately 50 medical staff, including registered nurses, nursing assistants, patient-care assistants, ward maids, attendants and drivers staged a midday protest outside Khan's office on Park Street, Port of Spain yesterday.

Just about an hour into the action, word came that Khan would meet with the workers representatives.

"They came upstairs and I agreed to listen to their grievances," Khan said after the meeting.

Khan said the protest action stemmed from a wide spectrum of grievances, including a five-year delay in arrears payments and nursing problems.

"I told them I would check into it," he said.

Oral Saunders, ousted Public Services Association general secretary, represented the workers at the meeting and cried shame on the current PSA executive for not following up on an agreement they signed for the workers.

"It's five years now that there are outstanding arrears owed to various monthly-paid workers," he said.

Workers are owed money for the period 2008-2012.

"The Minister was very cordial and encouraging. We know it is not his problem and we do not expect him to micromanage the RHA's but we thought that he should know what was happening. We know it is not his doing that caused this because the money has been released from the ministry to the RHA's, the workers haven't got it," Saunders said.

Saunders said the workers were "very dissatisfied" with the management of the RHA and was grateful that the Minister stepped in.

"We are grateful that the minister has that open-door policy," he said.

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