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Union directs doctors to return to work

One day after the Supreme Court ordered that junior doctors return to work, executives of the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) were informed by Trade Union Congress (TUC) counsel and President Obie Ferguson that the Office of the Attorney General has served the BDU with an injunction order. As a result, all junior physicians must immediately return to work.

“Our matter will be heard before the Supreme Court within 48 hours,” said Dr. Patton Adderley, BDU secretary general, in a statement released yesterday.

In a prior statement, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said that Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, Rand Memorial Hospital and clinics in Grand Bahama were still “limited to emergencies only”.

It noted that emergencies are classified as “injuries or illnesses that threaten life or limb”, including gunshot wounds, chest pains, asthma and broken bones.

On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder ordered that the union be restrained from contravening sections 76, 77 and 83 of the Industrial Relations Act.

It was also ordered that the union instruct its members to return to their specific areas of employment and report to work when scheduled to do so.

Yesterday Adderley told The Nassau Guardian, “We resumed full accident and emergency services today to ensure the general safety of the public as well as provide relief for the consultants. Everyone else [is] still providing emergency services.”

When asked why the doctors did not return to work, he said, “We have not been served with the injunction paperwork, so, our members have not been ordered back to work.”

BDU President Dr. Melisande Bassett could not be reached for a comment yesterday.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said he was informed that the union’s lawyer, Obie Ferguson, was served with the injunction.

On Tuesday afternoon, members of the BDU marched to Rawson Square, sang in the rain and refused to return to work until the Supreme Court order was given.

“This is one part of the battle,” Bassett said.

“The war is not finished until you treat us fairly and you treat us decently, like we are Bahamians.”

On August 21, the junior doctors went on strike, expressing concerns over pay they say is owed to them for holidays worked over the past decade.

The union said the doctors are collectively owed $10 million.

The government offered to pay $4.9 million to the doctors.

However, a meeting on Monday morning to discuss and finalize that agreement fell through when Bassett said she was advised by the union’s legal counsel not to sign.

Justice Winder will hear the matter this afternoon

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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