As Guyana continues to suffer from the negative effects of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in all sections of society, several healthcare workers, are now being subjected to discriminatory acts from operators in the public transportation system.
This is according to the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), whose Executive Council in a press release on Thursday, stated that nurses in particular are being refused entry into public transportation along various routes.
“This behaviour by some drivers/conductors of the minibuses who are refusing to transport nurses in uniform, to and from work, must be condemned. Covid-19 has been declared by WHO/PAHO as a pandemic. This pandemic is so pervasive that almost every country is grappling with its devastating effect,” the missive stated.
The GPSU reiterated the importance of its health care workers, citing that they are the individuals “in the frontline” battling this contagion along with other public servants who provide the backup logistical work for the country’s health care system.
“Our health care workers render patient care to those afflicted and all assistance should be given to ensure that they arrive at work on time to relieve their tired and sometimes overworked colleagues and to take home those who have just completed their shift. The service these workers provide is priceless and they should be commended and every effort should be made by the public to display appreciation for the work they do, to encourage and motivate them to make their lives comfortable.”
The Union pointed out that minibuses serve as an integral part of the public transportation system in Guyana and that this is why many health care professionals depend on these vehicles to get to work on time or to get home after a hard day/night providing health care.
The GPSU acknowledged the right of every individual or entity to ensure that anyone who is anticipated to be in close proximity observe certain health protocols and simultaneously pointed out that healthcare workers observe “all the necessary requirements” before leaving their home or work.
“However, if there is a concern by the operators of public transport, the Union suggests that they implement appropriate systems considered practicable and, similar to those adopted by agencies, a dispenser with hand sanitizer is not too much to ask. However, to deny them access to the minibus is downright absurd, unlawful, completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated. As a licensed public transportation operator there should be no discrimination and all passengers should be treated equally and any acts of discrimination should be dealt with by the law,” the Union noted in its press release.
Additionally, the GPSU is advising that all healthcare workers record the registration number of any public transportation vehicle that “deny them their right to join the vehicle to be transported” and that this information should be forwarded to the Union so that “adequate action” could be taken.