Govt. will pay out $30 million to public service for holiday payout

Govt. will pay out $30 million to public service for holiday payout
Minister with responsibility of the National Insurance Board (NIB), Brensil Rolle.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  The government will spend approximately $30 million on its payouts to public service officers, revealed Minister of National Insurance and Public Service Brensil Rolle yesterday.

After months of tense negotiations that led to a demonstration in August, the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) signed an agreement with the government earlier this month that will see its members receive a $1,400 lump sum payment.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on the matter, Rolle said: “The government determined that the cost of the payout is going to be approximately $30 million to public officers. The normal payout has been under that, but because we are giving this payout of $1,400, it’s working out to be $30 million.

“Individuals should have received their $1,400 today.”

Asked which group of public officers will receive those lump sums, Rolle said: BPSU members, teachers, permanent weekly paid employees, uniformed branches, Public Hospitals Authority staff – including doctors and nurses. He added that this does not include consultant doctors.

He said those who will not receive the payment include: other government authorities and corporations, members of the judicial branch, contract workers hired outside the public service commission, 52 week programme employees, air traffic controllers, and ministers and MPs.

Rolle’s comments come amidst ongoing confusion over who in the public service would qualify for the payments.

A letter from the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) advised on Thursday that junior doctors who have yet to be made permanent and pensionable will be excluded from the payments.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands told Eyewitness News yesterday the letter was a mistake, calling it a “ball of confusion”.

Sands insisted all doctors, including those on contract and interns will receive the $1,400 lump sum payment. 

Following a tour of Bahamas Power and Light’s Clifton Pier Power Station, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis also sought to clarify the matter.

“I’ve spoken multiple times about who was going to get the payouts: nurses, doctors, immigration, defense force, police force and I think the detention officers and that remains firm,” Minnis said.

Asked about the distribution of those funds, the prime minister noted, “I don’t know exactly how they did the distribution, but I clarified which ones were getting it and that was done.”

He added that the junior doctors were among those to receive the payment as well.

The BPSU’s previous industrial agreement expired in 2018.

Negotiations are expected to continue in second week of January 2020.

Earlier this year, the BPSU proposed a $250 base salary increase per month in the first year, a $2,500 lump sum payment in the second year and another $200 pay raise per month in the third year for members.

In August, hundreds of BPSU members marched on Bay Street to the Churchill Building, where members demanded money, they said the government ought to pay them immediately.

The BPSU’s members included hundreds of employees at Princess Margaret Hospital, the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and Rand Memorial Hospital.