Consultant Physician Staff Association (CPSA) President Dr. Locksley Munroe said yesterday his organization will call a strike vote as early as “the end of next week”.
The CPSA held a demonstration at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) last week, warning that if its demands weren’t met, the physicians would take industrial action.
During the protest, they highlighted concerns with working conditions, a lack of health insurance and said they had not received raises in 10 years.
Munroe said doctors had to cancel procedures yesterday because of a malfunctioning air conditioning system in multiple theaters.
He said the CPSA was consulting legal counsel to ensure that its steps were legal.
“We’re going to have an urgent call meeting next week and that
strike poll may be called as early as the end part of next week, the first week of October,” Munroe said.
“There is a possibility that that step will be taken within the next week or so.”
Munroe also said, “We can have urgent call meetings. As far as having withdrawal of services or demonstrations, that is something that can be done in a kind of an ad hoc manner. You can go off for a long-term lunch or something [to] that effect. You can have your strike poll and you then have a legal authority to call a strike or [withdraw] services.”
The strike vote would be the result of what Munroe called the CPSA’s “dissatisfaction with the manner in which our concerns and requests are being addressed by the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA)”.
In a recent op-ed, Munroe said that, for more than 12 years, “the benefits for senior physicians have not improved. No health insurance. No pension plan. Not one salary increase. Not one increment”.
Last week, the PHA advised that it remains “fiscally challenged” and cannot expand salaries and benefits given the current state of PMH and the scope of works needed there.
“We have consistently honored all negotiated benefits under the various existing industrial agreements, and I forecast that this will not change,” said PHA Managing Director Catherine Weech.
“As it relates to finances, as it seems to be the crux of the matter in this week’s demonstrations, it is important to note that while the Public Hospitals Authority’s budget remains relatively unchanged over the course of the last several years, annually this organization is required to absorb the additional cost for the engagement of new physician interns and senior house officers.”
The PHA said it has pursued amicable discussions with members of the CPSA.
It noted that, within the last two months, it has commenced a review of the financial items presented by the consultants in an attempt to move forward as far as the financial constraints of the PHA allow.
But Munroe said the PHA has not made any formal contact with CPSA to progress the negotiation process since July 16.
“They have not had the respect, the decency to make contact with any of us to indicate that they are willing to come back to the table, and that is a total lack of respect for persons like ourselves, senior physicians,” he said.
“It’s a lack of respect for the process by which an amicable resolution may be attained in this whole circumstance.”
Munroe said that revenue is being lost from the National Insurance Board not being billed for industrial accidents and other “possible sources of revenue” not being accessed.
“The government, as well as PHA, they need to figure how it is, just like BPL, just like Water and Sewerage, just like Bahamasair, you have to figure out in your organization how is it that you will raise the funds to meet the standards that ought to be met,” Munroe said.
“The consultant group is more than willing to partner with them to capture revenue because there is revenue being lost in this organization, and we have made suggestions and there are records from 2014 where we have forwarded our opinion, our position on how you might improve revenue capture in this organization. They’ve been ignored.”