Home Breaking News Only 73 nurses qualify for COVID-19 allowances NOT all nurses

Only 73 nurses qualify for COVID-19 allowances NOT all nurses

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Dr Rodgers explaining the nurses salary and allowances to the media this afternoon. Photo: George Herming: GCU
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The Government reveals that only 73 nurses will receive COVID-19 allowances as it confirms that it will not be paying any other allowances as demanded by the Solomon Island Nurses Association.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare yesterday suspended SINA after its members staged a peaceful sit-in protest in the NRH Car-park claiming that the government had been slow in responding to their demand for COVID-19 allowances.

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However the government today defended the PM’s decision to suspend SINA – stating that it had given the nurses enough time to dialogue and their positions on the allowances had been very clear from the start.

Secretary to the Prime Minister Dr. Jimmie Rogers told a lengthy press conference today that they had held two meetings with SINA on October 3 and 4.

He explained that on October 4, the government in its meeting with SINA clearly stated that it would only be paying COVID-19 allowances – to front-liners and not to the rest of the nurses as demanded by SINA.

According to Dr. Rodgers, SINA had demanded that every nurse in the country regardless of where they are situated –must be paid $250 a fortnight. In addition to that, all the nurses in emergency zones must be paid $1000 a fortnight.

There are about 1,200 nurses throughout the country.

However Dr Rodgers said based on the Oversight Committee’s recommendation to Cabinet, the government could only pay for the 73 nurses working at the frontline but it can’t afford to pay $250 to all the nurses in the country and $1000 a fortnight to those in emergency zones.

“It’s not possible because we can’t afford,” said Dr Rodgers.

He said the message was clearly relayed to SINA in their meeting on the 4 of October.

Under COVID-19 arrangements as stipulated in a pubic service circular everyone who worked at the frontline will get 300 a day but not every day – only at times when the person comes into contact with someone from outside at the borders.

The allowance has since been increased to $400 after the country recorded its first case on 3rd October.

He further explained that in that regard, only 73 nurses that work at the frontline, including those at the quarantine centres and at the isolation unit at the NRH are paid COVID-19 allowances. Dr Rodgers added that these people come under tier one category whilst tier two includes the people that the front liners depend on to make things work, for example, those in the operation centres, who are doing the planning. They get $150 a day but again depending on if they carry out the work and not all day.

“Why would we have the whole of SINA sitting down withdrawing their services to the nation?” he said.

“The nurses have only one outstanding payment and that has been paid on Friday or Monday,” said SPM.

Dr Rodgers explained that normally these allowances are paid a fortnight— and in the event it was delayed it would paid a fortnight later.

He further explained that previously their allowances were paid via imprests through the ministry but the ministry of finance has told them to pay it through their salary so that it could be taxed.

“Before June they were paid via imprest and there was no delay because of no tax deduction. But the ministry of finance says it was illegal. So it was diverted to payroll. So it means that all in the frontline have to fill a form within their ministry and have to go through their payroll system before it is submitted to the ministry of finance,” Dr Rodgers explained.

He said the government has done its part and he was surprised that SINA had decided to go on strike.

Dr. Rodgers also took the opportunity to explain to the public the salary of the nurses and the allowances that they draw from the profession. From the figures, the nurses are amongst the highly paid public officers in the country.

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