Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams said yesterday that should nurses vote to strike, they would do so even if senior physicians continue with their withdrawal of services.
Last week, the senior physicians who make up the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) withdrew their services for all non-emergency services from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
Those doctors have yet to return to work
On Friday, the Bahamas Doctors Union, which represents junior doctors, announced it will not take industrial action while the senior physicians are withdrawing services.
When asked whether this was something the nurses would also consider doing, Williams said, “That does not apply to the nurses.”
But she said, “We will not put anybody at risk. The managing team will be there and the consultants will still be there like they say.”
The nurses are expected to take a strike vote today.
The vote will take place at PMH, Rand Memorial Hospital, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, the South Beach Department of Public Health and venues on the Family Islands, according to Williams.
The Ministry of Labour declared the last strike vote taken by the BNU on June 7, null and void.
The nurses allege that the Ministry of Health has failed to facilitate outstanding payments to them and are also taking issue with the Public Hospitals Authority’s (PHA) implementation of a new shift system.
The BNU was one of 30 unions represented at a meeting with the prime minister yesterday.
Williams expressed dissatisfaction with the meeting but said today will be the day that nurses “answer back”.
“December 4 is the day that we answer back to the prime minister and the PHA,” Williams told reporters outside the Office of the Prime Minister.
Williams claimed the union received a letter from the PHA at 2 p.m. on Sunday advising that the shift change has been deferred until further notice.
“Here again, a disrespect. On a Sunday you send me an email? The nurses have their lives to live,” she said.
Williams said nurses feel disrespected.
“We will come out and we will be represented in full,” she said.
Last month, the PHA announced a new eight-hour shift system for nurses that is expected to start December 10.
The PHA said 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.
However, union officials rejected the new system, asserting that the PHA did not consult them, calling the shift and the premium insulting.
The union said the new system will not provide sufficient rest periods for nurses.
Both parties have been locked in negotiations for several weeks.