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Show Us Some Respect, Please: Nurses Threaten New Action After Press Blunder

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net 

BAHAMAS Nurses Union President Amancha Williams yesterday criticised the Ministry of Labour for its “disrespect” and again threatened industrial action, ratcheting up the fight between the bargaining union and the government over various disputes.

The new row came after the ministry issued a press release about the non-validity of the union’s recent strike vote. The press release was later rescinded.

Ms Williams told The Tribune that the union members were not made aware of the rescinded notice until reporters informed them of it. 

The BNU also renewed its threat to take action due to these grievances. 

The Public Hospitals Authority also released a memorandum yesterday confirming that a shift change for its nurses will go into effect on September 3. 

In the press release issued early yesterday morning, the ministry declared the strike vote poll taken by the BNU on June 7 null and void because some nurses on three Family Islands did not have an opportunity to vote.

Less than two hours later, the ministry sent a follow up email, asking the initial press release be held if possible, in light of “new developments”.

“It’s disrespectful that the reporters got it before the union,” Ms Williams told The Tribune. “We know nothing of it. We have not gotten an official letter. We were not called to the roundtable. So we’re going to show them the disrespect in a (little) bit. Tell them look for the disrespect from us in a (little) bit.”

When asked what form this could take, Ms Williams said: “We will take it to the streets, that’s what we (are going to) do. Tell (Director of Labour) John Pinder, you don’t disrespect us. We taking care of the patients. We demand respect. If you had something to say to us, you don’t go to the public, to the reporters first…that’s unprofessional.”

Last week, Mr Pinder told this newspaper that Ms Williams should stop her threats now that the government has committed to start paying nurses overdue funds this month.

For her part, Ms Williams added that she had not been made aware of the fact that the ministry had asked for the statement to be held. 

Ms Williams said on Wednesday she delivered a letter to the ministry regarding concerns in reference to the strike certificate. 

According to Ms Williams, in the letter she detailed that in “Inagua, efforts were made to contact the authority via internet and fax. However, it appears that their system (was) down.” She added similar issues affected Mayaguana and San Salvador. 

“We only could say what we received, okay?” Ms Williams said. “We were just like anybody else, waiting to hear from these islands who voted and who we sent to. The BNU has not received any complaints…from any of our members to say they were being denied the opportunity to vote. Those who were trying to reach us, we sent it by email and fax, ok?”

Ms Williams also pointed to the small number of nurses on the islands in question, saying: “The first three islands don’t even have six nurses— each island has two nurses each. Which will not make a difference. The fact and the thing that makes a difference is the majority of nurses said ‘yes’ (to a strike vote) — 377 nurses.”

The BNU president also questioned whether the ministry is using this as an opportunity or an “escape” to prevent the union from having its strike certificate. 

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes confirmed to The Tribune yesterday that he had received the BNU’s letter confirming the three islands in question did not receive ballots.

 “The (law) mandates that all union members (should) have an opportunity to vote. So because of that irregularity, it was impossible for me to certify the strike vote,” Mr Foulkes said. 

Yesterday, the Public Hospitals Authority also released a memorandum announcing its decision to commence its “comprehensive standardised shift system” for its nursing complement throughout all of its institutions starting September 3. 

Under this system, nurses will have to work eight-hour shifts, “including those nurses previously assigned to the night shift.”

“This change will in effect eliminate the current ‘four on, four off’ system, resulting in increased availability of nurses in our nursing pool, while reducing working hours per day for nurses currently working the night shifts,” the statement continued.

The PHA added that by reducing work hours from 10 hours per day to 8 hours for night duty, nurses would reduce the risk of medical error. 

Request for response from the BNU regarding this matter were unanswered up to press time. 

The issue of shift changes has been an ongoing source of contention between the BNU and the PHA. 

On August 1, the BNU’s executive board demonstrated outside Princess Margaret Hospital regarding its ongoing issues with the PHA and the government.

On April 30, more than 200 registered and trained clinical nurses staged a “sick out”. 

One issue that angered them was a 12-hour shift foreign nurses, who are not a part of the union, were asked to work at the time.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months ago

These nurses see our dimwitted PM and others in his cabinet prancing around the world with their entourages, flying first class, staying in the best hotels, eating in five star restaurants and still talking about spending millions and millions of dollars to buy a failed hotel in Grand Bahama that even its current deep pocketed foreign owner readily admits cannot be resurrected from the dead. And the dimwitted Doc wonders why these under paid nurses are complaining and seeking to be poached by other much better paying countries with superior working conditions! And these nurses know full well from past experience that John Pinder and Dion Foulkes are all talk and full of promises but really do not give two hoots about them, despite their great pretense otherwise. And to think Minnis lays claim to being an MD and he was at one time Minister of Health. He more than anyone should know the serious financial pressures being experienced by the nurses and their families. Minnis's apparent willingness to simply ignore the very genuine and valid complaints of these nurses is utterly disgraceful and, yes, most shameful!

Many of these nurses can only dream of being able to buy fresh fish to make a good fish stew for their families - something the dimwitted Doc and his family enjoy eating on a regular basis. And many of them still roll their eyes when they hear the Office of The First Lady was created and allocated an annual budget of $10,000 for tea parties! Simply unbelievable.

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DDK 4 months ago

It really is unbelievable. Total disconnect. Lots of talk about things designed to help The People, but the 'help' is inconsequential. Such a waste of time over the elimination of VAT on so-called bread-basket items (not a salmon in sight) while all other groceries and household items have gone up substantially as they did with the first round VAT. The elimination of VAT on clothing and shoes for licensed vendors selling same has not happened. It is my understanding that if and when they get around to it, storekeepers will be required to produce pro-forma invoices for approval by some government agency or the other and be at their mercy for approval. In other words, they really do not intend to give up the tax, which has gone from 25% to 25% PLUS VAT at 12. I have not heard any more on it. Much time and money is being spend on non-Bahamians and their issues. Office Of The First Lady my derriere! Such pretentiousness. Such lies about the need for more tax. Beyond sickening.

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ohdrap4 4 months ago

vat was never to be eliminated on the clothes and shoes, rather duty was/ as to these pro-forma invoices, the merchants will have to learn how to do it, schools do it all the time.

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DDK 4 months ago

My bad, DUTY, in any event, it has not happened. The duty is still there, along with 12% Value Added Tax. The point was that another political promise has not been kept - it was just part of their carrot and stick approach to the additional VAT. Even if the zero duty to those with appropriate licences had been implemented as promised, there is the issue of lack of ease of conducting business in The Bahamas!

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sealice 4 months ago

wait they are threatening to be disrespectful? What do they call the level right now? I know a lot of patients that called it a giant crok of schit and they walked down to literally to the walk in clinic,,,

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sealice 4 months ago

Ms Williams also pointed to the small number of nurses on the islands in question, saying: “The first three islands don’t even have six nurses— each island has two nurses each. Which will not make a difference. The fact and the thing that makes a difference is the majority of nurses said ‘yes’ (to a strike vote) — 377 nurses.”

Don't worry about democracy lady ..... typical Nassau mentality

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Alex_Charles 4 months ago

If the PM can blow $200mil to buy, renovate and operate the Grand Lucayan then by hell or high water they better pay our RNs!

They are the backbone and lifeblood of our healthcare system, pay them and pay them well so they stop leaving. That way when Nurses graduate from UB they stay in the Bahamas so we no longer NEED to import filipino nurses! Stop playing games Minnis... This isn't a joke, nor is this a game.

Pay them

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Socrates 4 months ago

only solution here is give them what they want then raise VAT another 3% to pay for it. And if they are not already, declare them essential service so they can't walk more than 24hrs.. As i recall Bahamasair used to be or still is a essential service according to them, no matter how ridiculous that sounds, so why not nurses?

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