LETTER: Nightmare continues for staff at University

7
UHSA

Dear Editor,
When will this nightmare be over? 

It is with much anger and frustration that I am penning these words to you.

It has been more five months since my colleagues and I have received a salary check, from our place of employment, University of Health Sciences, UHSA.

I personally know how financially devastated my family is, and I do not believe that I am speaking out of turn to say that many families are experiencing the same financial strain.

This preventable nightmare was brought to my attention in February of this year, when some staff and faculty received salaries, while others did not. Most of us taught that it was going to be a one-off situation, because of what was said to staff during a meeting, facilitated by the Mrs. Deborah, Robinson Akande. To my anguish and dismay, more than 5 months later, I am still waiting for my salary check.

During my, and by extension, the ordeal of my colleagues, it doesn’t seem as if the owner and her son cares one bit how we are surviving. Some of us left our home countries, so we do not have relatives here. While some have returned, others are still here. There are food and other physical needs, rents to be paid, cars to fuel and maintain; so what are we, the staff and faculty of UHSA supposed to do?

It is my personal belief the owners have friends in high places in this country; and that is why she is getting away with this, while so many persons and their families are suffering. I do not envy anyone with what they have achieved in life; be it materially, educationally or otherwise. However, it is unfathomable to me, how someone with so much, could sleep at nights, in her mansion, while her staff remains in financial ruin; no fault of theirs I must add; but it all resulted from bad management and alleged misappropriation of funds. The question remains, why are we suffering for the preventable, but serious mistakes made by the Akande’s?

Where is the justice for us? And since it is very clear that the Akande’s obviously do not care about the welfare of their employees, what is going to happen to us, should the university close its doors? With staff to pay in Puerto Rico, Chicago and Antigua, it is not difficult to know which group will suffer the most.

Dear Editor, I have traveled a lot; and I have never heard of anything such as that which is happening at UHSA happening anywhere else in the world; much worse, to personally experience it. This is Ludacris, unprecedented, as far as my research has shown! I need answers! We, the staff of UHSA need answers! Why is this allowed to happen? It is almost as if it is endorsed, sanctioned by the authorities. My family members do not believe that in the 21st century, employees are without salaries for more than five months; and neither the labour office people nor the authorities, nor local lawyers rallying to assist.  Where is the cry from other employers to offer even temporary/part-time employment to us? Not only was I told; but I also know for a fact that some staff already resigned. What message is this sending to others who want to come and carry on business here in Antigua? It is no secret what is happening at UHSA and how the staff is being treated. What is unconscionable is that no one has reached out to lend a hand or to offer advice or counsel.

School is about to open. What are parents to do? Borrow money? How and when will we be able to pay it back! I have already borrowed money, because I have to survive while I am here. I do not know how or when I am going to pay it back. And without a doubt, I can say that I am one of many! I have spoken with other staff who said that they are so far behind in many financial obligations; and only when the problem reached the media that those who they owed actually believe that they have not been paid for such a long time.

The school is taking its employees for granted and perhaps its barristers advised them that without money, people would eventually stop working and she won’t have to pay them. If they really cared for the plight of their employees, many who, in spite of not being paid are still going to work, having to find petrol for their vehicles, meals and other necessities, the Akande’s would forfeit some of their assets and pay us.

Thank you for your time Mr. Editor

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7 COMMENTS

  1. You can speak to her pastor at CAM in Paynters. She claims to be a God-fearing person, yet her actions prove otherwise. Have you all written to the Labour Commissioner?

  2. Check the son’s social media and it is obvious where the money went. Attempting to live in luxury behind a smokescreen is not easy to keep up with. 5 MONTHS SALARY!!??????? That is crazy. Where are the promised investors?? How much longer must we endure this ordeal? Young and old are suffering at the hands of Deborah and her child. This is awful for everyone and nothing is said. Not even the courtesy of a memo if she and her child are too coward to face us. Help us!!!

  3. Dear Editor,

    I have been reading the news about UHSA over the months, and I decided that it is time that some of us who are still here should speak up. I think our present situation is what happens in business. We were all involved in preparing for our school’s accreditation. Buildings were finished. I saw more faculty hired than ever before. We had a new standardized patient lab built. We all enjoyed the progress. When the hurricanes hit last year, we started to be affected because most of our students are from Puerto Rico. We saw a very low enrollment in January. That is what happened.

    I am still here because I believe in our school and I believe in the Akande family. They have had meetings with us, sent emails, and Dr. Akande is always available in her office, or you can talk to her when she is walking around the campus. Mr. Akande has put so much technology into our school that everyone can be reached at any time. We have an overload of information. Sometimes, if necessary, employees go to talk to Dr. Akande at her dental office in town. I can say that they are still trying to help us through this period.

    Then I noted the attacks on Dr. Akande’s Christianity. A few years ago, I met a homeless man that she took off the street and helped to get on his feet. Right now, as I write, the Akandes have a young lady living with them from Gray’s Farm that they support through college. We all see this young lady at the school when she comes home. She is an A student. The Akandes started the Free Clinic in English Harbour. That clinic has treated, I believe close to 600 people for free. We, the employees can also go there for treatment. How many of us have done any of this? The attacks on Dr. Akande’s Christianity and on her son need to stop. This is a business just like any other business. Things happen.

    The administration has told us that they are working on all of this and that and our present situation should turn around shortly. Yes, it is difficult. We all understand that. But I have been here for many years, and I have been a part of the growth and improvements. I have enjoyed working here, and I am not moving.

    • “The administration has told us that they are working on all of this and that and our present situation should turn around shortly. ”

      For FIVE (5) MONTHS now?? You must be really gullible and naive. No wonder you “enjoy” working at uhsa. LOL!!

      “A promise is a comfort to a fool.”

    • Mrs. Román, UHSA enjoyed a small period of “progress” but I am sorry to say that the current situation isn’t what happens in a business. Of course, all companies have dificult periods but the UHSA administration became complacent, conditions around campus were deteriorating and there were only two new buildings built, other projects like the library and multipurpose lab never came to fruitition even when enrollment was high. Money wasn’t being invested or used properly, that is the only explanation. Funds were misused to such a point that UHSA began using money that didn’t belong to them at all (student loan disbursements) which is fraud on whatever way you put it or want to see it. “I’m sorry” or “we underatand” are not enough because you played with your employee and student’s lifelyhoods, not to mention with their career as physicians. To this day the campus is running on generators, all the new faculty you happily mention has resigned and your students have suffered irreparable emotional damage. The situation has gone to far and I only hope that those affected can pull through even though the administration has turned a blind eye and remains silent “looking for a solution” behind closed doors.

  4. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

    MANY STUDENTS ARE IN THE SAME POSITION AS THE EMPLOYEES THAT ARE OWED MONEY. OTHERS WERE AFFECTED BY THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION’S DECISIONS THAT AFFECTED THEIR FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS. WE HEAR AND FEEL YOU. WE WANT TO BELIEVE IN THIS SCHOOL AND REMAIN LOYAL TO THEM, BUT ONE CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH DISAPPOINTMENT IN SO LITTLE TIME. IT’S GOOD TO SEE THAT THE AKANDE FAMILY HAS SOMEONE TO DEFEND THEM, BUT WHO DEFEND US? WE HAVE BEEN HUMILIATED BY THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION MANY TIMES AND NOW IN TOP OF THAT, THEY OWE US MONEY TO MAKE THE BLOW EVEN HARDER. UHSA HAS NOT KEPT THEIR WORD IN PROVIDING A SOLUTION TO ALL OF US IN A TIMELY MANNER. THEY KEEP ASKING FOR MORE TIME. UNFORTUNATELY, WE CANNOT ASK FOR THE SAME THING WHEN IT COMES TO PAY BILLS AND DEBTS. CERTAINLY, DO NOT THINK UHSA WOULD HAVE THE SAME CONSIDERATION IF THEY WERE THE ONES BEING OWED. MONTH AFTER MONTH, WE ARE TOLD TO WAIT UNTIL THE END FOR THEM TO SEND AN EMPTY EMAIL/LETTER WITHOUT ANY SOLUTION PROVIDED. IT HAS BEEN 5 MONTHS OF THEM PLAYING THE SAME EXCUSES. WE REALLY HOPE THIS SITUATION GETS RESOLVED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND PROVIDES THE REALITY CHECK AND HUMBLING EXPERIENCE THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION NEEDED.

  5. Update. This situation is still ongoing and they do not respond to emails or phone calls. Phone numbers are all invalid and emails unanswered. This is absolutely devastating in that we are being charged for student loans that we did not receive full disbursements for. The school also has since stopped giving deferment information to the bank to defer the loan.

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