OUT OF OFFICE: Public service union members at hospital, airport did not show up to work

OUT OF OFFICE: Public service union members at hospital, airport did not show up to work
(FILE)

Aviation director labels union action an “illegal withdrawal of labor”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Hundreds of Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) members did not show up to work yesterday, impacting services at several airports throughout the country and departments at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). 

The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) advised that services at the PMH Morgue (Rand Lab) had been suspended until further notice.

Eyewitness News also understands that the radiology and housekeeping departments at PMH were also impacted, and the dental offices and public clinics were also closed.

Earlier in the day, the Bimini, Cat Island, and Marsh Harbour airport had to be temporarily closed after nearly 15 workers, the majority of whom were security personnel, did not show up.

Director of Aviation Algernon Cargill labeled the action an “illegal withdrawal of labor” and expressed disappointment in the union for the action, insisting that the airport management has kept the union informed and worked in good faith over its industrial agreement.

Teams were sent to the islands in order to get the airports reopened and operating until the matter is resolved.

Cargill told Eyewitness News that a voice note of a former BPSU shop Steward was circulated on WhatsApp advising employees not to go to work today or tomorrow. 

The action also came as dozens of BPSU social workers across the country called in sick yesterday, over ongoing concerns regarding the lack of consultation on the recent career path rolled out for workers.

Grand Bahama Shop Steward Garth Russell told Eyewitness News that the action was done without the permission of the BPSU leadership. 

Russell said workers decided to put themselves forward to make their concerns known to the public and to show their dissatisfaction to management. 

He said workers also took issue with workers from the 52-week program being confirmed as permanent and pensionable over Unemployment Work Program personnel. 

“This is adding fuel to the fire as some of our unemployment workers are approaching retirement and some might be confirmed but not appointed since 2015,” he added.

Russell could not say how long those workers will be out “sick”.

More than 50 social workers in Grand Bahamas called in, along with workers on Exuma, San Salvador, Bimini, Abaco, and New Providence.

BPSU President Kimsley Ferguson could not be reached for comment on the matter up to press time. 

Last week, the BPSU staged a demonstration near the Queen’s Staircase over the outstanding industrial agreements and threatened to disrupt services at the airport and hospital unless its new industrial agreements were negotiated. 

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.

1 comments

It’s horrible that persons, particularly associated with PMH and other health care institutions, would strike during this time. It’s even worse when those same persons would do so without the support of their own union. Truly a selfish move.

Many years ago in the states, the president fired a bunch of striking air traffic controllers and it changed the course of union history in the US. “Reagan’s firing of the government employees encouraged large private employers, like Phelps Dodge (1983), Hormel (1985–86), and International Paper (1987), to hire striker replacements instead of negotiating in labor conflicts.[19] Comparatively, in 1970 there were over 380 major strikes or lockouts in the U.S., by 1980 the number had dropped to under 200, in 1999 it fell to 17, by 2010 there were only 11,[20] and in 2020 there was only 8 major strikes or lockouts[21], the third lowest since 1947.”

Be careful what you wish for, especially on the heels of an election. The new PM may have more bite than bark.

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