Health workers were on the front line during the COVID-19 outbreak. Pictured is a nurse on Pentecost island knee deep in mud with COVID-19 vaccines.

The Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC) has instructed the Ministry of Health (MoH) executive to urgently settle all grievances of more than 200 nurses at the Vila Central Hospital (VCH) on Tuesday, April 2 2024.

The OPSC relayed yesterday afternoon that the instruction was executed in light of a petition signed by the VCH nurses, urging the PSC to pay off their risk allowances for the period of 2021 during COVID-19. The PSC was given seven days to settle this grievance, or the nurses involved will take action.

Acting Secretary of the PSC, Mr. Jonathan Iavere with the Acting Chairman, Mr. Joe Ligo, and Commissioner Edward Jimmy called for a meeting with the MoH executive to deliberate further on the issue after receiving a copy of the petition.

“This petition signed by more than 200 nurses lapsed on Tuesday, April 2, so we had a meeting with the Director General (DG), Directors and Human Resource Officer of the MoH at the PSC conference room after I briefed Chairman Martin Mahe on the situation,” Mr. Iavere said.

The OPSC has instructed the Acting Secretary to action the following decision of the Commission. Iavere reiterated the PSC requested that the MoH executives must provide a report before end of April with clarity on how this outstanding issue may be settled once and for all.

“The report must state clearly when the payment will be made possible to pay off the risk allowances, how will the payments be done and who is entitled to these risk allowances,” he stressed.

The report must also include a legal medical term of ‘preparedness’ as this will determine the nurses eligible for the risk allowance payments.

“PSC has taken on board following the instruction from Chairman Mahe to assist the MoH with this issue,” Iavere said.

PSC seeks cooperation from all nurses and doctors that are employed by the government and urges everyone to have patience and to work together with the PSC until this grievance is settled.

The OPSC advised that all correspondence on this issue is to be directed to the office of the DG of the MoH.