The Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) and the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) remain at an impasse over a new eight-hour shift system for nurses that was expected to start last December, BNU President Amancha Williams said yesterday.
“No one started the new shift system underneath this BNU and no one will start that shift change,” she told reporters following the National Tripartite Council’s 2019 annual general assembly.
The PHA announced the new system last November and advised that nurses scheduled to work between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be paid $1.75 per hour in addition to their base pay. The announcement prompted a sickout and several protests by nurses.
“We can’t agree to that,” Williams said yesterday.
“You have to be competitive. When you come to a bargaining table you can’t stay at $1.75.
“You must see that you have some interest in the worker and move to at least $3. But when you are staying to $1.75 and $1, it don’t make no sense to come to the bargaining table. We’re not going to accept that.”
In December, Williams said she received a letter from the PHA advising that the shift change had been deferred until further notice.
She said yesterday that the PHA should come back to the table with the union.
She also warned that the union has a strike certificate in hand and will move forward with that if they have to.
BNU officials also expressed concerns regarding a nursing shortage throughout the country and its impact on the delivery of health care.
“We are now at a situation where we have a shortage of nurses worldwide, including The Bahamas,” BNU Secretary General Julian Mullings said.
“Madam president (Williams) has also said that we have placed several initiatives on the table, one of them being, in part, advertising for our young Bahamians to come into the profession. If we don’t have Bahamians in the nursing profession, who is going to take care of the patients within The Bahamas?
“We now see that there is overcrowding within the Public Hospitals Authority and in Princess Margaret Hospital, in particular.
“We have a very large boarder population where we don’t have bed space to take care of the patients who need to be in hospital.
“There needs to be a creative idea, there needs to be some innovative strategy to reduce that bed shortage, to fix up the units that have been out for periods of time.”
According to officials, PMH is in need of an additional 200 beds.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications