Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday he is unsure why the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) moved forward with a strike vote while it has no outstanding issues before the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA).
“The truth of the matter is that I really would like to know what are the outstanding issues because if we have outstanding issues that have not been resolved, my interest is to resolve them or to direct that they be resolved,” Sands said.
“[The] Public Hospitals Authority at this point has no outstanding issues with nursing, none.”
He added: “The last and only issue was the implementation of the new four on four [off] shift system and as you’ve heard that has been postponed, so it becomes very important now to know what are the outstanding issues in terms of mileage arrears, promotions, increments, etc. All of those things have been dealt with.”
On Tuesday, the BNU took a strike vote.
Director of Labour John Pinder said 573 nurses voted in favor of a strike and five voted against.
The nurses allege that the Ministry of Health has failed to facilitate outstanding payments to them. The union also took issue with the PHA’s implementation of the shift system.
Yesterday, BNU President Amancha Williams maintained that the union has several grievances with the PHA and the Ministry of Health, not including the shift system.
But the PHA shot that down.
“The Public Hospitals Authority today refuted statements by the Bahamas Nurses Union which specified that ‘other disputes’, apart from the proposed implementation of the new standardized shift, were outstanding,” said the PHA in a statement.
“In September this year, the PHA announced that all outstanding matters with the BNU had been resolved, and that the only outstanding issue was the implementation of a standardized shift system for nurses which would bring them in line with the current system in place for all allied health staff. The previously announced December 10, 2018 implementation date for the new system has been deferred.”
Under the new system, nurses scheduled to work between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. would have been paid $1.75 per hour in addition to their base pay.
Pinder said with the system’s implementation postponed, the nurses have no reason to consider industrial action.