Ministry of Health commits to an early resolution following “productive meetings”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said yesterday that while it is prepared to settle the matter of holiday pay for junior doctors who voted to strike Monday, payments have been “hampered” by the Bahamas Doctors Union’s lack of compliance with an automated time system that would evidence holidays worked.
“The PHA understand the junior doctors’ concerns regarding the lack of payment of these amounts and is desirous of settling the matter as quickly as possible, however, efforts to effect these payments have been hampered by the lack of compliance by BDU with the automated system for time and attendance monitoring used throughout the authority’s institutions,” the PHA said.
The authority pointed out that the BDU’s industrial agreement states that junior doctors are eligible for payment at double time for all hours worked on holidays. It said based on the terms of individual contracts and letters of appointment for each junior doctor there is a specific requirement for them to adhere to all policies of the PHA, including the use of its automated system for time and attendance monitoring.
However, the PHA said, “To date, there has been little adherence to this policy by the junior doctors which makes the task of confirming which employee is eligible for payment for working a holiday near to impossible. Given this non-compliance by the BDU members, the PHA has had to resort to offering an across-the-board holiday pay benefit to all junior doctors.”
The PHA’s offer to the BDU, which was contained in an internal position paper obtained by Eyewitness News Online, shows it proposed paying junior doctors $2,500 as a lump sum for the 47 holidays worked over the last several years. The offer was made in November.
But union officials rejected the offer, calling it unfair and grossly undervalued.
Yesterday, the PHA said the union not only failed to attend a previously scheduled meeting, but it also failed to sit with the authority or submit a counter-proposal to its November offer.
Hours after the PHA released its statement yesterday, the Ministry of Health issued a separate statement advising that following a “productive meeting” between the ministry and BDU executives, executive management has committed to an early resolution of the holiday pay issue.
“We have agreed to the terms that would preclude the decision to strike,” the ministry said.
“The ministry looks forward to further discussions with the BDU to enhance career opportunities and progression for doctors in training.”
Meanwhile, the PHA expressed its commitment to meet with the union to successfully conclude the matter, and said its door remains open to the union “in the interest of our common goal of providing quality, consistent healthcare to our patients”.
On Monday, 213 junior doctors voted to strike; 175 in New Providence, 35 in Grand Bahama, one in Abaco, Long Island and Acklins respectively. There was one vote against the strike in New Providence and one spoiled ballot in Freeport, Grand Bahama.