Now nurses consider own strike poll


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


Tribune Staff Reporter


AS doctors engage in industrial action, nurses are preparing to take a new strike poll of their own signaling more bad news for the public health sector.

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams confirmed this yesterday, acknowledging the validity of a letter circulating on social media that revealed the union has applied to the Department of Labour to conduct a new poll on December 4.

Key reasons are the “failure of the Ministry of Health to facilitate outstanding payments to nurses” and “unilateral variation of the industrial agreement by the Public Hospitals Authority.”

Nurses previously took a strike poll on June 7. At the time, 377 participants voted “yes” to go on strike and seven voted against.

However, the government refused to give the union a strike certificate, saying it did not give every nurse in the country an opportunity to vote.

The BNU called this a thinly veiled attempt at withholding a strike certificate from the union at all costs, noting the total number of nurses who did not have an opportunity to vote was only six.

“It was all a government plot so we wouldn’t be able to strike,” according to Ms Williams. “And we know why. We constitute one of the largest group of employees in the hospital and that’s why they held our strike certificate.

“They were wrong because the rules and regulations say there has to be a written complaint from a nurse saying she wasn’t given an opportunity to vote, and they had no such complaint.”

A key issue animating the BNU’s strike poll call has been the proposed shift change expected to be implemented next month. Nurses vehemently oppose the change from a four on/four off shift to a five on/two off one.

Their position was buttressed this month when Director of Labour John Rolle told The Nassau Guardian that a 2014 agreement between the Public Hospitals Authority and the BNU relating to the shift change was non-binding, a position at odds with the legal view of PHA.

Mr Pinder said that 2014 agreement was not registered with the Department of Labour.

In an interview with The Tribune recently, former BNU President Jannah Khalfani, the woman who signed the 2014 agreement with the PHA, suggested the union had outsmarted the governing body during negotiations, capitalising on its supposed ignorance of the proper process for changing the terms and conditions of the nurses’ employment. The PHA, Ms Khalfani said, needed to send a letter to the union officially requesting that the industrial agreement be opened to negotiations, a process never started.

Ms Williams said in view of such revelations, PHA’s decision not to reverse its announced shift change shows its disrespect for nurses.

“You would think they would come and sit down, apologise to the union and say let’s start over,” she said. “But no. They are bullies, stiff-faced, and disrespectful.”

Late last month, the PHA called it “reprehensible” that the BNU would admit to “deception” during negotiations in 2014.

“The PHA stands on its original position that our proposed implementation of the standardised shift system is supported by and is in compliance with the Employment Act of 2001, the specific agreement dated December 9, 2014 and the industrial agreements between the PHA and the BNU covering the periods of July 1, 2010 to November 15, 2015 and November 16, 2015 to November 15, 2020,” PHA said in a statement last month. “We further contend that we do not rely on these agreements in combination, but that each document stands on their own, giving rise to our authority to amend our shift system as well as our roster schedules. These rights are clearly spelt out in the 2010 industrial agreement and more specifically, in article five of the 2015 industrial agreement. Further in consideration to our nurses and the BNU, we sought their concurrence regarding the value of the compensation; the period of the work week, as well as the minimum break period between shifts, to which the BNU agreed.”


joeblow 5 years, 4 months ago

While the are some good Bahamian nurses the majority are lazy,rude obstructionists who are generally unhelpful. Their overall productivity has to be improved.


bogart 5 years, 4 months ago

Attitude issues needs to be dealt with and the problem lies wid the senior staff or officials in charge.....who seem incapable of disciplining them....and themselves... needs to be fired....but....nobody ever seems to ever be fired....an if anyone to be fired likely to be some junior scapegoat.....to makes it looks as though someting being done....!!! Erry body seems to hav dere own hook up....no matter who ever in charge.....see what I meaning.!!,


sealice 5 years, 4 months ago

Let them all strike at once - Cuba has 8000 doctors out of work and looking they will surely be welcome here and not britch about money when they are supposed to honor their hippocratic oath.... jokey just like all the other dumbarsses that gonna get run cus they think their Unions are doing anything other then leading them astray and stealing their money.


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