Port Vila Nurses Stop Work To Protest Vanuatu's New Health Structure

New recruits reportedly receiving higher salaries than long-serving employees

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 28, 2017) – Over 30 senior nurses at Vanuatu's main referral hospital in Port Vila refused to work yesterday as they took their complaint against the new health structure to the office of the Public Service Commission (PSC).

They are not happy over the recruitment of over 50 new graduates on contract under the health structure. It includes administrative staff.

Even some have been made permanent in more senior positions at the Vila Central Hospital (VCH) and in Shefa Province having entitled to higher salaries under the new salary scale compared to senior nurses who felt this to be unfair.

"The Ministry of Health (MOH) did not keep its promise to include us (senior nurses) under the new salary scale last pay day," said the Spokesperson of the Vanuatu Nursing Association, David Fred.

"We went to the MOH demanding clarification on the delay of our salaries.

"We understand the funds for the implementation of the new structure have already been made available.

"We have sought advice from our Human Resource Office on why the new graduates, including senior health officials such as DG are included in the new structure but we are still left behind under the old structure.

"We felt that it is injustice compared to our workload.

"Those at the Human Resource Office refused to explain to us.

"That is why we came to PSC," he added.

Their visit to PSC was accompanied by the Medical Superintendent, Dr Santos Wari.

According to the Acting Secretary of PSC, Mauriel Metsan, these new graduates were taken in 2015 as part of the government's 100 day plan to move staff on contract to permanent basis.

PSC Chairman Martin Mahe said the new health structure has been creating problems since it was endorsed.

He mentioned that the Commission's decision to endorsing the structure should not be influence by any minister.

"PSC is well aware of the issues surrounding the health sector.

"We can't fix problems when there are two structures," he said.

"The choice to create a new health structure is not of PSC.

"But, it has affected PSC. The Government Remuneration Tribunal (GRT) could not approve the new public servants salary scale because the MOH have not submitted its new structure.

"These ongoing issues means the right people are not at the right place.

"If people are not performing then we need to replace them.

"We have a lot of issues to deal with, not only health.

"This action has contradicted the Public Service Act which states all employees should enjoy same privileges," he said.

Mahe said the Director General and the New Health Structure Task Force failed to submit the health structure as requested last Friday.

They said they will submit today (Tuesday), he added.

Mahe said people will face the consequence in the next Commission meeting scheduled this Friday if they do not perform.

He said yesterday's action was a result of poor communication between the Department of Health and its technical staff.

Regarding the funds for the new structure implementation, Chairman Mahe clarified that Vt200 million has been approved by the national budget committee last year. This fund is expected to be fully utilized by Friday this week, March 31.

Under the new structure, there will be no change in salary, Mahe said.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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