Moving On: Nurses union drops threat of legal action

Moving On: Nurses union drops threat of legal action

PHA rolls back eight-hour shift system for new nurses

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams yesterday confirmed that the eight-hour shift system for new nursing hires in Grand Bahama has been rolled back by the Public Hospitals Authority.

Throughout last week, scores of nurses in Grand Bahama and New Providence called in sick amid claims that a long-protested eight-hour shift system was embedded in the appointment letters of new hires.

Williams had threatened legal action over the claims, insisting that nurses were blindsided and the new system represented a breach of the Industrial Agreement.

Yesterday, she said: “Everything is back to normal in Freeport.”

Williams told Eyewitness News that the union will no longer seek legal action on the matter.

“I don’t have any issue,” she continued.

“They’ve written us a letter and we’ve written them back with the expectations of the union and its members to immediately have it back to normal.

“They complied. We’re moving on now. There are a number of issues that we have brewing.”

She said: “You get hired, you get paid, you have an industrial agreement and you follow it.

“That’s all we’re asking. We’re not asking for anything else. We are not being greedy or begging for no more.

“You said you were going to give an honorary gift, fulfill your promise. You said you were going to pay overtime, fulfill your promise…We ain’t being greedy, we ain’t being hoggish.”

During the Ministry of Health’s press conference on Friday, PHA’s Deputy Managing Director Lyrone Burrows explained the PHA had attempted to increase the number of shifts that were available given the number of nurses who are currently out due to exposure to COVID-19.

He maintained that after reviewing the matter, there was no new shift system in place nor any attempt to eliminate the four on/four off system.

“Based on the surge of cases within The Bahamas, we attempted to increase the number of nurses who would be able to utilize the shifts that were currently in place,” he said.

“As a result of that, we have been in dialogue with the union as they thought that we were attempting to implement a system that would eliminate the four on/four off system.”

He noted that the four on/four off system “reduces the number of nurses that are in play to provide coverage up to about 25 percent”.

“We had a cadre of nurses who have been appointed to the PHA whose contract allowed them to work eight-hour shifts,” Burrows continued.

“With the eight-hour shifts, it would not present the opportunity for the four on/four off shift to be in place and therefore, we would be in a position where we would have significant improvements in coverage.

“Once this matter was brought to our attention by the nurses union, we reviewed it and we’ve made a decision that for the time being that we will not move forward with this new eight-hour shift at night.”

Burrows said there will be challenges in terms of providing the necessary coverage as a result of not moving forward with the new system.

He added that there were challenges in healthcare facilities to provide full coverage due to last week’s sickout.