New contracts for nurses
After several years of negotiations, the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) yesterday signed two five-year industrial agreements with the Ministry of Health, totaling $4,382,050. The agreements cover 2010 to 2015 and 2015 to 2020, impacting roughly 1,550 nurses.
“I wish to point out that the 2010-2015 industrial agreement mirrors the previous 2005-2010 industrial agreement, with the exception of a uniform allowance increase of $50 per month with effect from July 1, 2012,” said Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez during the signing at the Department of Public Health on Meeting Street.
He added, “I wish to reiterate what I have always said and what I know to be a fact, that nurses are the primary frontline workers in the delivery of primary health care and one of the cornerstones in the implementation of National Health Insurance in January 2016.”
BNU President Jannah Khalfani said she is thankful to the government and her members, who remained patient throughout the negotiations.
“The minister [responsible for] the Department of Public Service, I would like to thank him as well for answering my calls when I contacted him when we [got] into little scrapes.
“I would especially like to thank my legal team, Mr. Obie Ferguson, for always being there to guide us legally and mentor us throughout this whole process.”
Ferguson, president of the Trade Union Congress, said despite other considerations, the agreement will serve to better the lives of Bahamians.
He thanked the prime minister, minister of labor and minister of health.
The union signed two five-year contracts with the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) totaling $13.8 million two months ago.
Over the past several years, the nurses held several demonstrations to prompt the government into action.
One of the more notable actions was staged in September 2014, when more than 150 nurses either walked off the job or did not turn up for work in protest of failed negotiations.
Two clinics on Eleuthera were forced to close because nurses walked off the job.
The strike was a part of wider industrial action orchestrated by the Trade Union Congress.