Works colleagues down tools in support of burn victim being cared for locally – despite calls for overseas treatment

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

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.