GUYANA’S ability to battle the dreaded novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and other existing ailments hinges on the work of health workers, who the Government is seeking to recognise and encourage with the payment of a year-end bonus.
“Healthcare professionals will get two weeks equivalent bonus pay before the end of the year,” said President, Dr. Irfaan Ali during his remarks at a ceremony to initiate the retrofitting of the Leonora Diagnostic Hospital, on Thursday.
Health workers, in October, had protested for better pay, risk allowances, among other things. But the Government had called for patience, considering the dire state of the local economy, which was rattled by the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 and a prolonged General and Regional Elections, which ended on August 2, 2020.
Despite the existing challenges, the President assured that “all health workers” will receive the bonus. He said all health workers, in this case, will be classified as “frontline workers.”
Government, in the recently-presented 2020 Budget allocated some $150 million for frontline health workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was reported that the frontline workers had called on the Ministry of Health to provide them with an equitable working wage, as well as a risk allowance for the ‘extraordinary’ job they have been doing on a daily basis, particularly in the COVID-19 fight.
The President was, however, confident that there are strong independent actors who were looking to exploit these circumstances. But regardless of the motive, the President maintained that Government, as part of its five-year programme, is looking at improvement on a macro level.
“We are looking at assistance in the housing programme, not only increases in salary… better working conditions, better add-on benefits… nurses with children would benefit from the cash incentive, the cash grants; they will benefit from the uniform allowance, and the removal of VAT on electricity and water,” said President Ali in a previous report.
The President said he understands that every category of worker wants more, and wants better. And, he assured that the Government has better to deliver, and that the authorities are committed to ensuring that all categories of workers have a better standard of living, better opportunities, and greater prospects in the future.