BAHAMAS Nurses Union President Amancha Williams.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
BAHAMAS Nurses Union president Amancha Williams says about 60 percent of nurses who were owed COVID-19 overtime pay have now been paid and officials have promised money due for Hurricane Dorian work will be settled by the end of next month.
However, she told The Tribune that no nurse has received an honorarium that is due to them.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was said to have directed officials in the Ministry of Finance to ensure the issue was settled and told nurses this would be done even if it comes out of “his own salary”.
However, according to Ms Williams, the honorarium issue remains unresolved. She said nurses just want the two-year long issue to be over and done.
“It remains unresolved,” the BNU president said. “About 60 percent of overtime for COVID-19 has been paid. When it comes to Hurricane Dorian pay, they say they will complete it at the end of March, but nurses in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas are still waiting on the honorarium.”
In an earlier interview, Ms Williams said officials had not complied with the request for a list of which nurses received money from the government. This has made it hard to account for the progress made.
“They have not sent anything direct to us so that we can mark (it) out, so we still don’t know if everything is being paid. The previous government, they’ve sent me print outs so that we can go through it manually and tick off and say it’s complete.
“Here, no one wants to give it to us. We asked and we are still asking. Please send us a listing of everybody that you have already paid.”
She again echoed the concern that with COVID-19 vaccinations expected in the country soon, nurses are apprehensive to be a part of the administration of jabs with the issue of unpaid money lingering over everyone’s heads.
Earlier this month, after nurses protested twice, they finally met with the Prime Minister. “We went in the meeting and the Prime Minister met with us, him and his entourage, and the Prime Minister said if he has to pay with his own salary, he will make sure that nurses are paid,” Ms Williams said at the time.
“He has directed a finance officer to pay the nurses in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” she continued. “Whatever he promised from July that would’ve been done must be done. It’s being orchestrated right now...”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Renward Wells recently told reporters the government has paid nurses $162,000 in overtime between March and September last year. He also told the House of Assembly that Public Hospitals Authority nurses have received their overtime but said there is some overtime paperwork issue regarding some nurses in the Department of Public Health.
“The nurses who work for PHA, every one of them has been paid their overtime. When it comes to PHA all of the nurses that work in PHA have been paid... there is only one issue for the nurses in the Department of Public Service,” he told Parliament earlier this month.
He later told The Tribune that the process of validating overtime requests at the Department of Public Health was moving slowly due to the manual system.