IT seems like some disputes never go far away – even in a pandemic.
The Bahamas Nurses Union and the Public Hospitals Authority are getting ready to go toe-to-toe – again – over a shift system for nurses.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is a dispute that has been rumbling on for more than two years. The pandemic – and the rush to acclaim healthcare professionals for all they are doing for us in the fight against COVID-19 – seemed to have muted matters, but here we are again.
Newly hired nurses have received letters saying they will work five eight-hour shifts per week. This runs against the current standard of four on, four off.
“Why do you want to put a shift change in the middle of COVID?” asked nursing union president Amancha Williams, “They are taking advantage of us. When you (are) supposed to be compensating us, you beating us.”
Another note from a nurse said the government is “using this pandemic to push their own agenda”.
It does seem like the worst time possible to be bringing disruption to the medical system or causing resentment among workers who are risking their lives simply by being at work inside a hospital during this outbreak.
It also comes as the government is trying to raise money through a bond placement that will – in the absence of much income through taxation right now – keep the lights on and keep paying those nurses. There surely isn’t going to be much wiggle room for compensation for nurses to settle any ongoing dispute.
Now the PHA, it would seem, are mostly aiming this at new nurses – but one doesn’t have to look too far into the future to see that operating two separate shift systems at once doesn’t look wise in the long term. What’s coming for new nurses would appear to be a sign of things to come.
Still, we have not yet heard from the PHA on this and they will have their own perspective on why this is necessary.
Right now, we would hope the main goal is to ensure the best possible way to continue battling COVID-19.
Indeed, anything less than that goal right now would be very curious indeed.
Compass Point lacks direction
Speaking of old disputes, the owner of Compass Point is back with his customary growls and demands.
He’s written to staff telling them that he isn’t sure whether to shut down his business or not. What the staff are meant to do with this nugget of information is beyond us, but given how long Leigh Rodney has been threatening to shut down the property, we would hope they have long had their resumes updated.
Previously, Mr Rodney has threatened to close down come the 2022 election unless the government addresses his concerns about regulation of the hotel industry. He has received fairly short shrift from the government about such demands. Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has pointedly kept his distance from the whole matter, though he has previously described Mr Rodney’s closure threats as “completely out of line”.
For his part now, Mr Rodney says that it “seemed pointless” to continue incurring losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic – especially with the virus “likely going to continue through next summer”.
Mr Rodney is far from alone in dealing with the trials and tribulations of the current time, though he seems to complain the loudest.
That said, we do hope he doesn’t throw the towel in – Compass Point is a landmark on the Bahamian scene, and we wish it the best of luck in the future. But if he does, we hope he finds a buyer who will make the most of the location – without, please, quite so much noise.