NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday that junior doctors should comply with the Public Hospitals Authority’s (PHA) automated time system as it is not an impediment, but serves those doctors in ensuring overtime and holiday pay is properly accounted for and compensated.
“It’s good for safety reasons; for example, some areas of the hospital you can determine whether a person is in a particular area because you have to swipe to go in that area,” Pinder told Eyewitness News Online.
“It is more than just [a measure] to account for time.
“It is also a security measure that you can utilize it for.”
The overwhelming majority of junior doctors voted to strike Monday.
In a statement yesterday, the PHA said while it is prepared to settle the matter of holiday pay for junior doctors, those payments have been “hampered” by the Bahamas Doctors Union’s (BDU) lack of compliance with its automated time system that would evidence holidays worked.
“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,” the PHA said.
“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 and 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.
Union officials have called the offer unfair and grossly undervalued
Asked if the procedure of clocking in and out could represent an impediment to junior doctors who often respond to emergency cases on the spur of the moment, Pinder said, “No it is not.”
“It is not an impediment because throughout the world I have been to hospitals where the doctors swipe in to get into certain areas.
“The system has been in place for years, but it’s just that the doctors never agreed to swipe.”
The director said prior to the establishment of the PHA, the salary range of hospital employees determined who clocked in. He said for junior doctors it was seen as a sign in mechanism and not as a system that would impact their salary or benefits.
Despite the ongoing tensions, Pinder expressed confidence the BDU and the PHA will resolve the matter amicably and avert a withdrawal of labour.
He said he plans to meet with both sides, but did not provide a date.
“The PHA, all along, was trying to work this out with them,” Pinder said.
“The union could not provide PHA with the right figures.
“It couldn’t justify the numbers it put in.
“The PHA said if you can’t justify these numbers this is what I am going to offer you (the union) and regarded what PHA was offering as an insult because it was apparently around 50 per cent of what was owed to them.”