Employees at the Ministry of Works downed tools on Monday morning, July 10, to express concern over the welfare of a badly injured co-worker, Gregson Joseph – even as the Gaston Browne Administration was being accused of deception.
The workers, who were deployed to locations around the island, turned up to work, but declined to carry out any of their usual duties.
REAL News correspondent George Wehner says the action was taken after the workers held discussions with their bargaining agent, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU).
Joseph was burned in an explosion at the Bendals Quarry, although the details of the accident are still not clear.
But following the June 26 incident, the workers have been calling for protective gear that could be instrumental in saving their lives.
A source says that Ralph Potter, industrial relations officer at the AT&LU, has scheduled a meeting with the workers and other stakeholders for this Friday, July 14.
Meanwhile, the Government, through the Ministry of Works, has pledged to assist with Joseph’s medical expenses.
However, he is receiving treatment at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre – even as critics argue that he requires specialized care that is available only in a burn unit.
The Cabinet has also expressed concern about Joseph’s condition.
It claims the hospital’s medical director has been in contact with Joseph’s family in the United States and Belize, with the last such interaction being as recent as July 5.
However, the man’s New York-based sister has contradicted that claim, saying the authorities have not spoken to her about her brother’s condition.
A source says that no attempts are being made to transport Joseph out of the country because hospital officials claim he is not stable enough to fly.
Reportedly, however, he is able to sit up.
And in similar news, Central Board of Health (CBH) workers took to the picket line, again, on Monday, July 10, protesting outside the Ministry of Health headquarters on upper Church Street – this time over unpaid backpay and overtime, among other issues.
The workers had staged a protest two weeks ago, on June 28, at the Health Centre location, for similar issues, and vowed to take their grievance to the headquarters.
They continue to say they are being treated unfairly by the government and as if they do not matter.
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