FINAL WARNING: BPSU warns airport and hospital shutdown if concerns not met

FINAL WARNING: BPSU warns airport and hospital shutdown if concerns not met
Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson (center) speaks to members of the media on the scene at a demonstration at the Queen’s Staircase on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

PHA says it approved industrial agreement since May; has been awaiting Cabinet approval since June

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) has threatened to disrupt services at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) unless new industrial agreements are negotiated.

Dozens of BPSU members, including PMH and LPIA staff, gathered at the Queen’s Staircase yesterday to make a final plea to government officials on their grievances before drastic action is taken — just one day ahead of the advance polls.

The workers held placards and shouted.

Dozens of members of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) demonstrate at the Queen’s Staircase on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

BPSU President Kimsley Ferguson said for too long his union members have gone without their concerns being addressed, including outstanding hazardous pay, promotions, salary increases, uniform allowances and a new industrial agreement for hospital workers.

“It appears to me that all the cronies attached to this particular administration and the FNM (Free National Movement), they are the ones who seem to be getting all the gravy on their rice; these people are getting nothing,” he said.

“Hence, we are here today to take a stand.

“If it’s a disruption in service that is necessary to get the attention of the government, that is the reason we are here today. This is the initial launch up to that shutdown.”

Ferguson said if officials do not come to the table immediately, action will be imminent.

“[There will be] disruption in service wherever it is necessary in order to get the attention necessary to address these concerns,” he said.

“If they need a disruption at the airport, well then here they are.

“If they need a disruption in services at PMH, then we gat it coming.”

The BPSU union warned the Minnis administration that union members are also voters.

Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson (center) speaks to members of the media on the scene at a demonstration at the Queen’s Staircase on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

“You cannot expect these people to support anyone that is disadvantaging them,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) confirmed that the proposed industrial agreement between the PHA and BPSU was approved by its board of directors in May and a draft Cabinet paper was sent to the Ministry of Health for further action in June.

The authority said it remains open to engagement with the BPSU on outstanding issues but that it “encourages parties [with] disputes with the organization to refrain from making threats to hospital services and patient care in an already challenging environment”.

Some unions have had longstanding issues with the PHA and have threatened action on multiple occasions. Last month, employees at PMH and Grand Bahama Health Services staged sickouts for a week, causing significant staff shortages.

As a result, access to some health services were delayed, impacting the delivery of healthcare.

About Sloan Smith

ssmith@ewnews.com Sloan has spent the past four years as a lead news writer immersed in the field, covering a range of investigative breaking news developments. She produces daily salient pieces on natural disasters, crime, politics, policy, human-interest, and socioeconomic realities.