The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) yesterday denied claims by Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson that negotiations between the two have been stalled for almost 10 weeks.
“While the PHA will continue to honor the confidentiality of our mutual discussions, we feel it necessary to speak to the BPSU’s statement that the negotiation meetings are being continuously postponed and that as a result negotiation on a counter proposal have stalled for almost 10 weeks,” the PHA said in a statement.
“The PHA categorically denies these claims. At the onset of negotiations, both parties agreed to specific conditions to ensure a proper, cordial engagement over the term of the negotiation period, including a separation of negotiations into non-financial and financial matters.”
Ferguson claimed that meetings for those negotiations continued to be postponed, noting that he was of the belief that it was being done on purpose to stall the negotiations.
But the PHA said that starting January 11, there were a total of 12 negotiation meetings, with the most recent meeting taking place on July 30.
“Our records reflect that one meeting was canceled due to a no-show by the BPSU, while four other dates were postponed by mutual agreement,” the PHA said.
“There were no instances where the PHA acted alone and canceled any negotiation meeting.
“The financial teams agreed to continue the twice per month schedule adopted by the non-financial teams, with our first meeting scheduled for August 9.
“Regrettably, the PHA requested a deferment of that meeting in order to allow members of the PHA’s financial team to attend another function in support of a senior official of the PHA, a key participant in the financial negotiation meetings.
“While a deferment was requested, the PHA offered to either extend the next two scheduled meetings by an additional hour or to meet twice in one week to make up for the deferred meeting.
“The PHA remains committed to the negotiation process with the BPSU and other stakeholder groups as we recognize the importance of negotiations and collaborative agreement to ensure that our employee benefits are maximized within the financial constraints of the PHA.”
The BPSU has placed a proposal for a “$350 increase, a lump sum payment of $3,500, another increase of $200 and another lump sum payment, and then a salary review”, according to Ferguson.
The PHA noted that it was disappointed that Ferguson spoke to the media regarding the negotiations.
“The PHA and the BPSU both agreed to strict confidentiality concerning the matters being discussed between both parties,” the statement said.
“To-date, the PHA has maintained this position but finds it disappointing that the BPSU has not.”