Nurses threaten – 'we won't turn up'

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff


Tribune Chief Reporter


BAHAMAS Nurses Union President Amancha Williams yesterday suggested nurses will not be showing up for their new shifts next month as she maintained there was no legal grounds to penalise non compliance.

The union is calling for government intervention as tensions with the Public Hospitals Authority persist over the proposed shift change, with the authority suggesting the union was not negotiating in good faith in its latest statement.

“They can't penalise nobody if no nurses show up on December 13,” Mrs Williams said.

“It doesn’t matter if we don’t have (a strike certificate) in hand. I don’t have to work, you can’t cut my pay, you didn’t give me that shift, that wasn’t agreed upon. It was unilaterally done (by PHA) and it should not be done that way.

“Our argument stays the same,” Mrs Williams said, “labour (officials) should be involved at this point.”

The PHA claims the BNU has yet to formally respond to the proposed roster schedule sent in May, and in a statement issued yesterday, underscored repeated postponements of meetings by the union and a failure to provide written feedback on the issue of contention.

The authority gave an account of a meeting with the union on Tuesday, which it stated was held in an attempt to further discussions on the impending standardised shift system.

“During the October 30 meeting with the BNU,” the statement read, “the PHA confirmed its intent to maintain the implementation date of December 10, 2018 for the new standardised shift system for nurses, and once again invited the BNU to provide documented feedback related to the proposed roster system identified for each PHA institution.

“The BNU confirmed that it was not in a position to do so,” it continued.

PHA said it has asked the union to present its arguments against the new shift system in writing by today and a follow up meeting is set for Tuesday.

Yesterday, Mrs Williams accused the authority of misrepresenting the issue.

“They (PHA) did not rebut at all,” Mrs Williams said, “the lawyers just asked for us to start and do things the right way. They realised what Obie (Ferguson) saying is documented and legal, cases were seen before. They know there is no standing and court will rule in favour of BNU. They realise that,” she said.

“The PHA Act which is registered, the law, 17.3, states if you are enjoying a good benefit, no one can take away the good benefit that you are enjoying. In their law, in their act, they cannot go against that, and the nurses say that’s good for me.”

Moreover, Mrs Williams said she was told by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in August the matter would be put on hold until he had returned from his vacation.

She told The Tribune it was shameful that both Dr Minnis and Labour Minister Dion Foulkes remain silent over negotiations, which she claims are being conducted in contravention of labour laws, and the PHA Act.

Mrs Williams also hit out at Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, whom she said has not presented any cogent opinion on the matter.

Dr Sands has previously said he will not interfere with negotiations so long as they are being conducted in good faith, and suggested the outspoken nature of health professionals in recent months was indicative of a democratic political environment.

“If I am the Bahamian public I wouldn’t take nothing what Dr Sands say,” Mrs Williams said, “he’s talking a bunch of stupidness. His arguments are terrible.

“[Dr Minnis] said to us when he comes back he will deal with the shift change,” she said, “from then shift change is on hold. The PM put a hold on the shift change, the country forgets. How is it that the PHA now takes it up? The PM has to come to the nation, and let us come to the table, let’s come together. A proposal is not two letters and that’s that.”

Mrs Williams said: “[Mr Foulkes] needs to step in. He has not said anything and that is a shame, I cry shame on them. [Mr Foulkes] should have written a letter formally that what is written is illegal, and what the PHA is doing they must do it the correct way. He has a legal team in labour and he must do it the right way.

“But he has not commented, not given a formal letter for the strike certificate.”

Nurses overwhelmingly supported a strike during a poll this summer but the government denied them a strike certificate, telling the press the poll failed to give every nurse an opportunity to vote.

The Tribune tried to contact both Mr Foulkes and Labour Director John Pinder but did not get a response up to press time.

The PHA announced last week that the four days on/four days off shift will change to a five days on/two days off shift in over a month. The two sides dispute what impact the change will have on the well-being of nurses; and also its legality given that a 2014 agreement on the shift change between the BNU and PHA was not adopted in its 2015 industrial agreement.


sheeprunner12 5 years, 5 months ago

What is the US/Canada/Caribbean protocol with nurses' shift systems??????

Is this 40 hr week/ 5 on 2 off something unique and unprecedented???????

Just asking ............... smh


K4C 5 years, 5 months ago

Ontario Canada

Day Shift - 0730-1530 Evening Shift - 1530-2330 Night Shift - 2330-0730

Nurses will be scheduled to work a maximum of six (6) scheduled shifts

SALARY SCHEDULE Effective April 1, 2016 Effective April 1, 2017 Start $31.45 $32.21 1 Year $31.91 $32.36 2 Years $32.45 $32.90 3 Years $34.04 $34.52 4 Years $35.65 $36.15 5 Years $37.66 $38.19 6 Years $39.68 $40.24 7 Years $41.72 $42.30 8 Years $44.68 $45.31 25 Years $45.47 $46.11


Greentea 5 years, 5 months ago

I imagine if they were being paid these rates plus the added benefits of living in Canada- monetized in the Bahamas at about10-15 additional thousands of dollars- the implementation of shift work wouldn’t be a problem or maybe less. As such entry level nurses in the Bahamas make less that an entry level person at Target stores in the US - and also I imagine many are young and single mothers and can’t afford to leave children alone overnight. So there might be some cultural issues here too.


sheeprunner12 5 years, 5 months ago

Well .......... if you want to do the Canada comparison ........ pay the Canada income taxes and other provincial taxes and fees as well ....... including VAT.

Get real ......... that's comparing apples and oranges.


licks2 5 years, 5 months ago

Lady you don't have a leg to stand on. . .they got ya letter agreeing to do so when they change their shifts. . .noticed that I said their shifts? Government is your employer. . .you dang working for them. . . don't show up and yinna know what will happen doh? THIS ONLY SHOWS THAT THIS PRESENT PLP EEN KNOW HOW TO "DO" GOOD POLITICS. . .THE OLD WAY DONE DEAD PEOPLE!! DOC THEN EEN SAYING NOTHING BECAUSE YINNA EEN >BREAKING" NO LABOUR LAWS. . .DON'T SHOW UP FOR WORK AND YINNA GER SEE THE NEW WAY OF DOING THINGS!! SO FAR YINNA BEEN "PROTESTING" ON YINNA LUNCH TIME. . .BREAKING NO LAW!!! NURSES THEM BEEN ON THEIR JOBS OTHERWISE AS I SAW IT. . .BUT THIS PLP CANDIDATE "WANNER-BE" WHO EEN GAT MUCH SENSE IT SEEM. . .WILL RUN THEM PEOPLE RIGHT UP ON BREAKS. . .SO TO SPEAK!!


DDK 5 years, 5 months ago

So don't turn up. I doubt the patients will lose much.


Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 5 months ago

LMAO. Doctors in the know know for a fact that nearly half of the unnecessary deaths at PMH are caused by unqualified nurses providing inadequate care of their patients. It has been that way for over a decade now.


sealice 5 years, 5 months ago

Please don't turn up so you can all be let go at once - this will save in photocopying all those dismissal letters and make it oh so much easier to fly in a plane load of foreign nurses who will be grateful for the work and try to live up to their oathas a nurse , Nurse Nightingales you are NOT!!


ApollosTwin 5 years, 5 months ago

I am with the government on this one. The shift change is in no way unprecedented or new in anyway. Nurses are upset that this shift change will cut into their ability to work at other jobs..simple as that. The outcry that it would be unsafe and that they need time to recuperate is garbage. Do you know how many shift workers we have in this country? Police officers, defense force officers, customs officers, security officers, hotel workers, who at most will have one or two days off a week if they lucky. Physicians that work in PMH on those busy wards may get 1 or two days off in a month depending on patient load. Nurses get two 15 minute breaks, an hour for lunch, four days off during the week during which time they can rake in the overtime, or work other places and yet still the health care system is crumbling. In this country paying people more money does not equate to greater productivity unfortunately. While these nurses strike and protest and walk off the job, their filipino and other foreign counterparts are holding down the fort which is usually the case on any given day. There are hard working Bahamian nurses and there are lousy ones, but there is a serious sense of entitlement in that nurses union.


sheeprunner12 5 years, 5 months ago

Thought this was a case of government-worker entitlement ......... smh

If the present arrangement is so good, why are PMH/clinics so dysfunctional?? ........... Short answer = unreasonable entitlement, low productivity and union job security.


geostorm 5 years, 5 months ago

If you all think the government playing, don't show up for work when that shift is implemented. I dare you all to try! The days of unions holding government hostage are over.

It's time for fiscal responsibilty. The good DOC and his team looking for ways to save money. They are going to revamp that shift system so that we can save money.A big savings for the Bahamian people!

And if you all think you have better chances with the US and Canada, go right ahead. Let me see you try. Surely they will not take all of you.

What you all need to do is improve your attitudes. Change the way you treat those poor patients who have to deal with you all.


Bonefishpete 5 years, 5 months ago

So how's business doing at Doctors Hospital?


Jess 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with the comments! Don’t show up! Sadly, the patients are in better care with the foreign nurses! During the 10pm - 8am shift, very few nurses are awake. So, what time do you need to recuperate? Such decrepit standards of care. Yet always complaining!


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