“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”: Nurses union considering legal action over ‘hidden’ shift system clause

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”: Nurses union considering legal action over ‘hidden’ shift system clause
Amancha Williams, Bahamas Nurses Union(BNU) President led a protest earlier this year over outstanding overtime payments and other issues. (file photo)

GB Hospital administrator: No change to the nurse shift system 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams yesterday threatened legal action over the inclusion of a shift system clause in the appointment letters of new nurses.

Williams said the eight-hour shift system has already been implemented for nurses in Grand Bahama who signed appointment letters that contained the clause.

While some nurses in Grand Bahama called in sick yesterday, Rand Memorial Hospital administrator Sharon Williams said there has been no change to the shift system for nurses.

“There are some nurses who call in sick today, as reported,” she told Eyewitness News.

“There are no shift changes. Nurses are scheduled as required and as per work contract.”

Williams added: “Once we have reviewed the matter, PHA Corporate will provide further response.”

The Public Hospitals Authority did not respond to requests for comment up to press time.

The shift change from four on/four off to five on/two off was announced by the Public Hospitals Authority in 2018 and repeated attempts to implement it have been staunchly protested by the union.

Williams said just over 100 new nursing hires have been impacted, with plans underway to implement the shift system at the Princess Margaret Hospital and Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

She said she was contacted by SRC management to discuss scheduling changes at the facility this week.

Williams insisted the system is a breach of the Industrial Agreement that covers all nurses working in the public sector.

She continued: “This is their way of slowly bringing this in and doing what they have to do. We’re not going to work them.”

Eyewitness News has seen copies of recent schedules that show nurses being scheduled for eight-hour shifts, with some on five on/two off days.

“The prime minister himself, if he wants the shift change for the whole Bahamas, he still has to come to the table,” the BNU president said.

“…We realize this needs a legal suit because at the end of the day they’ve breached a legal contract.”

Williams added that if the matter is not rectified in a manner that the union can agree with, the union will move forward with “force”.

“We will take any force that we need to take to get this matter resolved,” she said.

“That means there’s no hospital in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas that is under the government system will have a registered nurse or a TCN there present to run.

“We say enough is enough. You don’t treat your own like this. It’s wrong. It’s dishonest. It’s deception and they knew about. Somebody has to be held accountable for this action.”