Foulkes: Physicians to meet with PM ahead of unions

Foulkes: Physicians to meet with PM ahead of unions
Minister of Labour and Senator Dion Foulkes

Minister says he spoke to TUC over the weekend


NASSAU BAHAMAS — Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will meet separately with senior physicians today ahead of a joint meeting with both umbrella unions and their affiliates.

That meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m.

Last Friday, Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson told The Nassau Guardian he will not attend the meeting with the prime minister because Foulkes did not confirm the details with him.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Foulkes said he hopes the TUC president attends that meeting.

He said he spoke over the weekend with TUC Secretary General Tyrone ‘Rock’ Morris, who enquired about the time of today’s meeting.

“I am assuming that they will attend,” Folks said.

“That’s the impression that I get at this point.”

He continued, “It would be very disappointing if they do not come because it is something that the prime minister had agreed with all the unions that he will [meet] every six months.”

The minister said when he initially spoke with Ferguson and National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) President Bernard Evans both agreed to meet.

“I don’t know whether Mr. Ferguson had second thoughts based on the issues that he has with PHA (Public Hospitals Authority) and maybe he realized that he needed some more time, but the prime minister had agreed to meet with the doctors separately,” the minister said.

He also said Consultants Physicians Staff Association President Dr. Locksley Munroe has agreed to attend that meeting.

“I presume Mr. Ferguson will be there also because I think he is the legal representative for that union,” he noted.

Asked whether productive discussions with each union is feasible during a meeting with so many representatives, Foulkes said a similar meeting was successfully held earlier this year.

“Each president that an issue had an opportunity to speak directly with the prime minister,” he said.

“I thought it went very well. As a matter of fact, it went extremely well.

“Everybody spoke very highly on the meeting.

“They were very impressed at how the prime minister handled the meeting.

“So, I look forward to both umbrella groups being there.

“Mr. Bernard Evans has definitely confirmed that his presidents will be in attendance and I look forward to Mr. Obie’s Ferguson’s group being there also.”

Yesterday marked the sixth day senior physicians ceased elective services in the public healthcare sector following failed negotiations over their salaries with the PHA.

In the last few weeks, at least nine unions have either demonstrated or threatened to withdraw labour.

The nurses are expected to hold a strike vote on Friday.

Nurses have rejected a new shift system imposed by the PHA.

The Bahamas Doctors Union has also requested a strike vote over a lack of overtime pay for holidays.