Industrial unrest imminent for nurses



Nurses across the county are up in arms over a shift system set to be implemented by the Ministry of Health, despite its expressed vehement opposition to the systems.

In a statement released over the weekend by the Ministry of Health, officials said all matters regarding outstanding payments to members of Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) by the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) have been addressed.

It was noted that the only matter outstanding is payment to staff in Grand Bahama, resulting from the fire at the Rand. Those payments are expected to be made in August, the statement said.

Health officials added that the PHA was awaiting a response from the union regarding a proposal to eliminate the nursing shortage at the various hospitals in New Providence and Grand Bahama.

To eliminate the nursing shortage within these hospitals, PHA said it is proposing to implement a five-on/two-off shift system for night duty nurses, which will effectively re-align work schedules to 8 hours and improve service delivery to the Bahamian public.

Respectfully, the statement continued, the union was given the requisite one month’s notice prior to the implementation of this shift system.

BNU President Amnacha Williams told Eyewitness News yesterday however, that what was presented to the union on Friday was “crap”.

Williams said as far as she was concerned the proposed shift system was placed on hold by the prime minister and there has been no further consultation on the issue.

“He (the prime minister) never gave us an indication that the hold was off and we were operating in good faith because they have never sent us an appraisal,” she said.

“All of a sudden they are now putting these things in place. They sent us a proposal to review but we will not make any decision on a shift change … no nurse has agreed to this. What they sent to us was crap.”

Williams explained that what is being proposed is a $1 premium an hour for the shift hours, which she said, is unacceptable.

“Nurses with Bachelors and Master’s degrees, they want to pay us only a dollars. Who would agree to that,” she said.

Williams said the union will not settle and stopped short of promising union action, except to say its actions will speak for its members.