Bahamas Nurses’ Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams yesterday expressed certainty that the overwhelming majority of nurses who participate in Tuesday’s strike poll will once again vote to strike.
“As presently, we are now in the mood of going into a strike poll as of December 4 from 9 to 5,” Williams said.
She added: “We never got the letter [last time] so we filed again. We want to go again and this time we’re going to come out stronger, better and louder so that you can hear us.”
The poll will take place at Princess Margaret Hospital, the Rand Memorial Hospital, the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, the South Beach Department of Public Health and other venues on the Family Islands, according to Williams.
Among other concerns, the nurses said they are taking issue with the Department of Labour’s failure to issue them a strike certificate after their last strike vote, failure of the Ministry of Health to facilitate outstanding payments to them and the Public Hospital Authority’s (PHA) implementation of a new shift system.
The Ministry of Labour declared the last strike vote taken by the BNU on June 7, null and void.
Williams said, “We know in times past, we had a previous [strike] poll and we had 377 voters say yes and seven say no.
“The government denied us a strike certificate saying we were not successful because a few persons complained that they did not have the opportunity to vote. When we looked at it, we sent in all our emails and communications that we had with the Family Islands. We never had a complaint in writing to us and they said they didn’t have the opportunity.”
Williams questioned what difference two additional votes would’ve made when the majority of voters voted in favor of a strike.
But Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes shot that down in the Senate on Thursday.
“Whether they vote or not is not the issue; they must have an opportunity to vote,” Foulkes 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, the union 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.