By LEANDRA ROLLE
AFTER several years of negotiations, the Consultant Physicians Staff Association officially signed its first industrial agreement with the Public Hospitals Authority yesterday.
Noting the move was a long one in the making, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands told reporters at yesterday’s signing that the agreement will help strengthen the relationship between the two parties.
“Today’s signing marks the successful culmination of a process spanning more than three years. In May of 2016, the CPSA achieved voluntary recognition by the board of the PHA as the sole bargaining agent for the consulting physicians at PHA institutions,” he said.
“And in November of that year, they submitted an industrial agreement to the authority.
“After a period of negotiations and having come to an agreement on financial matters at the end of 2018, and having recently received the approval of the industrial agreement from the Office of the Attorney General, we are now prepared to execute the first official industrial agreement with the CPSA.
“…So, today’s agreement is significant because it strengthens the relationship between our consultant doctors and the public institution in which they provide care,” Dr Sands said.
In 2018, members of CPSA protested outside Princess Margaret Hospital over an unresolved industrial agreement with PHA, citing insufficient funds and the lack of health insurance and pension plans as some of the issues.
But, under the new industrial agreement, Dr Sands said workers will be able to receive lump sum payments, a base salary increase and an increase in extra hours allowance.
The new contract will also allow for hazard protection in the workplace.
Dr Sands continued: “This agreement which takes effect from July 1, 2016, and spans a five-year term ending on June 30, 2021, represents a comprehensive compensation package that brings our consultant physicians in line with increases across the public service.
“And with this agreement, we formally recognise that our consultant physicians not only have skin in the game, but they also have a seat at the table.”
While expressing gratitude on behalf of all CPSA members, Dr Sabriquet Pinder-Butler, president of the association, said members are hopeful that the agreement will result in further improvements for the doctors.
“We expect today that this signing of our industrial agreement will also allow for equitable treatment and benefits of members of the CPSA who are employed by not only the PHA, but also the Ministry of Health as this has been an outstanding issue,” she said.
“We are all servants of the public everyday, even though senior doctors are often excluded from benefits provided to public servants without justification. Moving forward, however, we expect that this practice of exclusion and discrimination to discontinue.”
Despite this, Dr Pinder-Butler maintains that CPSA is committed to ensuring that the highest quality of healthcare is delivered to all Bahamians.