Doctors can have complaints too
I HAD OCCASION to listen to a morning talk show on one of the local radio stations. The topic being discussed was the current industrial action by public sector doctors.
It was quite interesting the position taken by most of the callers: most seemed to be of the view that the doctors were wrong to strike.
They felt that doctors should be deemed as providing an essential national service much like police, firemen and the like and therefore had no (ethical) right to withhold their services.
The contributors used the current situation to vent on the quality of service at the QEH in general, the work ethic of the doctors specifically and that of Barbadian workers in general.
One caller quoted what seemed to be the average monthly salary of doctors in what seemed to be an inference that they had no cause to whine about anything and just needed to suck it up and get on with the job.
In fact, I heard no opinions regarding the specific catalyst for the current action and whether it was felt that it was justified, although, in light of the prevailing opinion that they should not strike under any circumstances, I guess that was moot.
I fully understand why the public would be concerned whenever such groups are off the job; however, I often wonder if they are not to have the right to strike, what, in the public’s opinion is the recourse when negotiations reach a certain stage when under other circumstances strike action would be the “natural” next step.
To me, doctors, police officers, nurses, firemen are all human beings doing a job, and they will have grievances that need to be addressed.
Arbitrary strike action or “sick-outs” are certainly never conducive to an amicable and productive industrial climate.
However, I believe that such groups have to be provided the same opportunities and processes to have their grievances identified and dealt with as other workers.
Industrial action should not be seen as a strategy to “strong-arm” management into meeting demands but as a means of highlighting unfavourable working conditions and situations so that improvements can be made.
One recalls that several years ago, when the police were off the job, there was some considerable surprise expressed by members of the public when certain details regarding conditions of service, pay in particular, were revealed.
Even though many were quite equally vehement that the police should have continued working, many others were sympathetic to the cause of the officers, undoubtedly out of recognition of the demands of the job as well as, one would like to believe, the generally high level of service provided to the country by the organisation.
I do believe that despite appearances to the contrary, most workers in the public sector in general, and in the essential services in particular and especially, have the national interest at heart, and such situations are not desired by anyone.