Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) President Dr. Melisande Bassett said while the government may have won the first battle, the war is still ongoing, as she pledged to pursue a strike vote for four other trade disputes the union has filed.
Her comments come one day after she said she would direct doctors to end their strike after Labour Minister Dion Foulkes announced that the matter is being referred to the Industrial Tribunal.
Last Wednesday, roughly 420 doctors on New Providence and Grand Bahama withdrew their services. The key issue is holiday pay, with the union claiming that the doctors are not being paid for working on holidays.
But Dr. Bassett said during a press conference today there are several other outstanding matters that the doctors will pursue, including the reported removal of intern housing and allowances.
Dr. Bassett claimed that the BDU’s concerns have not been sufficiently heard or addressed in the last several days.
“We have been denied the legal right to exercise our right to industrial action because we have not been able to have conversations,” she said.
“Now of course, we have been seeking advice from all across as to what is our next step. Today, we want to let you know that this may be a small battle that seemingly they have won, but the war is still being waged and we will not stop.”
“One thing that the minister has failed to realize is that we have four other matters that they did not attend at the industrial tribunal. Trade disputes have already been filed and we will call for a strike vote on all of them.”
Junior doctors were expected to return to work today. It is still unclear how many of them complied with the order. A large group of doctors demonstrated downtown around 1:30 p.m.
The Industrial Relations Act mandates that any person participating in a strike action must “discontinue” that action once the matter is referred to the Industrial Tribunal.
Foulkes said that the strike action by the BDU “has affected and threatened the public interest”.