Central Medical Stores strike over working environment

The staff of the Central Medical Stores located in the old HANCOM building on Old Parham Road yesterday staged a sit out outside of the building.

Reports reaching Caribbean Times are that the staff have refused to work in the increasingly dangerous conditions inside the deteriorating building that houses the life-saving pharmaceuticals that are used by the Medical Benefits Scheme, The Mount St. John’s Medical Center and clinics across the country.

This position came after they were given assurance by way of an official letter that immediate steps were being taken to relocate the staff and the medical supplies and return to normal operations by yesterday, Monday, February 6th, 2017 as a result of a letter sent to the Ministry threatening industrial action; the situation had not changed as of the end of the day yesterday.

It was explained that the structure has overgrown mould that has started to affect the stored medical supplies which it has been indicated are being improperly stored. There were also reports of rat infestations, which are a cause for concern as the droppings can contaminate the supplies and is generally unhealthy for those who occupy the stores on a daily basis. There was also an indication that an old MRI machine which lacks the necessary shielding, creating fears of an irradiated environment along with other refuse, such as old furniture and were being stored in the building

The major concern has been expressed as the presence of poor ventilation, mould, fungus, rat droppings, which has created an environment unconducive to human occupation, which has also started to affect the supplies stored at the location. It was also stated that staff has fallen ill and continue to fall ill, primarily suffering from respiratory issues.

A union representative for the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) who was on site expressed that discussions would have to take place with the relevant authorities before definitive answers can be provided.

Honourable Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health and the Environment was not available for comment due to his taking part in the National Budget Debate yesterday.