Nurses to be paid delayed overtime
Manama, July 10, 2011
Nursing staff at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), who have not been paid overtime allowances since February, could have the money in their accounts this week.
Disruption at the hospital in February and March, when it was taken over by protesters and used to equip anti-government demonstrations at the nearby GCC Roundabout, has been cited as a possible reason for the delays.
This is largely because many staff were absent from duty during that time because they were themselves involved in protests.
However, Health Ministry public and international relations director Abdulaziz Alrafaei said the problem was being resolved.
"We are aware that many nursing staff have not been paid," he said."There were some issues with the payments for the last few months and these are now close to being resolved. The department concerned has pledged the money would be in bank accounts this week in most cases or, at the latest, by the end of the month."
Alrafaei said basic salaries had been paid regularly, explaining that only additional allowances had been affected.
He was responding to complaints from a group of nurses, who contacted our sister newspaper the Gulf Daily News to say they were still waiting for overtime pay dating back five months.
They said they had been told staff shortages in the human resources department meant the payments could not be processed.
"Most staff, we were told, had been taking part in anti-government protests," said one nurse, who asked not to be named. "But now many months have passed and the SMC is back to normal, but the payment processing system has not been sorted out."
She described the nightmare of reporting for work at the hospital when it was under siege by protesters.
During that time Asian patients were assaulted by protesters and one Pakistani doctor had to go into hiding for days to avoid being attacked.
"We had to pass through chanting crowds but, fortunately, we were not harmed because we felt we were needed at that time," said the nurse.
"When SMC was liberated by the security forces on March 16, most of us had to do double duties and worked more than 16 hours at a stretch since staff who were supposed to relieve us had not arrived.”
"The mental agony and pain we and our families suffered were not reported elsewhere, but even then we do not have any complaints and understand that these were the demands of our profession,” she added.
The nurse stressed the group was not seeking additional money for doing their job, despite the hard times they faced, but simply wanted what they were owed. "Most of us have taken loans from banks in Bahrain and in our home countries to make a dream home, to buy a car, to give good education to our children, to provide our loved ones with proper medical treatment," she added.
She said those loans were paid back in instalments automatically deducted from their accounts once their salaries were paid in.
Without the overtime payments, the nurse said many members of staff were now struggling to make ends meet, while the situation has been compounded by some of their husbands losing jobs as a result of the economic fallout from the unrest.
"Unfortunately, some of our husbands lost their jobs due to the economic problems the unrest created," she said.
SMC was occupied by anti-government protesters between February 14 and March 16, during which they had a free run of the facilities and controlled all movement within the hospital after security staff went missing.
Hospital equipment, including linen, mattresses, drugs and expensive diagnostic machines, were reportedly taken away or damaged.
Protesters fleeing the hospital when security forces moved in on March 16 also damaged several ambulances in a bid to immobilise the fleet.
Forty-eight medical staff are now on trial for their alleged role in the occupation. – TradeArabia News Service
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