Monday 6 April, 2020

‘Unpaid guards’ absent from work at Bustamante Hospital for Children

A section of the main parking lot at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

A section of the main parking lot at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

Nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners who work at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St Andrew could soon find themselves working without proper security in place at the institution.

A similar fate could greet the young patients and their parents and guardians who use the facility.

This follows reports coming from the facility that a number of private guards who are stationed there have been increasingly staying away from work as a form of protest over what they are claiming to be non-payment of salaries from the company that they are employed to.

Some among the security guards claimed that for months they have been working without compensation despite calls of concern to the management of the security company.

Loop News visited the hospital late on Thursday and spoke to some of the guards.

"It has been close to three months since many of the guards were (last) paid, and we are not pleased with what we are hearing," said one guard who indicated that it has been close to two months since he was last paid.

“Right now is over a $100,000 that is outstanding for me and I am yet to hear when I will be paid,” said the guard.

He was clearly not alone.

Another guard, for example, said he was forced to work without a salary for over a month.

The guards said in addition to non-payment, they were being told to turn up for work despite their financial challenges, as failure to do so would result in termination of their employment.

All the guards who spoke to the Loop News team asked not to be named out of fear that they would be victimised if they were identified.

During the visit to the hospital, the Loop News team noticed that there were few guards at the facility.

The news team also spoke to a supervisor who was manning the gate to the hospital, who politely declined to comment on the reported development.

“I am not authorised to speak on such an issue,” said the supervisor, whose brief statement appeared to have involuntarily confirmed the ‘issue’.

The supervisor directed Loop News to the head office of the security company in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Several calls were made to senior managers of the company, but the phones rang without anyone answering.

Several other guards who contacted the news centre on Thursday night threatened to step up their protest come the weekend, if the matter is not resolved by then.

The guards also accused the management of the company of recruiting new persons to replace the disgruntled guards, instead of trying to resolve the salary issue.

“A number of new guards are being recruited and these individuals are being asked to work for weeks without pay. We believe this is another delay tactic by the company,” one of the guards said.

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