By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
A NUMBER of Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre employees gathered outside the facility yesterday in frustration over outstanding honorarium payments, according to Bahamas Public Service Union President Kimsley Ferguson.
Mr Ferguson noted concern that the Public Hospitals Authority is making “every effort” to discipline people and cut salaries, but are not making the same effort to ensure people get what they “rightly deserve.”
“This morning we are here in reference to the fact that the PHA has issued a release indicating that they were in the final stages of the honorarium payment and the persons you see behind me this morning are those individuals who were not captured in the honorarium payment at all,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Prior to them issuing this particular release, I would’ve spoken with management reference to this category of persons behind me which is the recreational therapy, security officers, grounds department, the registry, operating room, and a number of other areas that would not have been captured and asked that they would submit these particular names to corporate office so that these persons can receive some form of compensation,” Mr Ferguson said.
“I was advised that was done hence today nothing has been forthcoming for these persons and we are now being made aware that they have reached the final point of payment in relation to the honorarium.”
In an October 27 article, PHA Deputy Managing Director Lyrone Burrows told The Tribune that the monetary award for remaining honorarium payments would come by the following week through cheques.
The payments were initially to be made in October.
He confirmed the delay after an internal memo dated October 25 sent to employees said the honorariums would not be paid out as part of the October pay package.
The BPSU leader said they are hoping not to have to resort to industrial action to get their issue resolved.
Mr Ferguson said: “We are hopeful this morning that this administration will look into this honorarium situation. We’ve had persons working in the administrative area who worked remotely from home who received honorarium and the security department in particular they were mandated to come.
“They were mandated to work eight hours and they did not have a choice but they did not receive any form of compensation.”
When approached by reporters on the matter, Health Minister Dr Michael Darville urged workers to remain level headed as officials work through the issue.
He added: “We are being advised that those individuals who have received honorariums and the balance that is on the list fall within a parameter that is outlined in a Cabinet conclusion from the former administration. We’re reviewing that and we realised that there’s quite a few people not only at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, but also at the Rand Memorial and some of our clinics that are affiliated or run by the PHA and we’re looking at it and so we’re asking everyone to just be level headed.
“It’s an issue that is ongoing.
“The first thing was basically to honour those whose names were on the list and then take into consideration the other individuals.
“It is something that we need to discuss around the table because the Cabinet conclusion is very clear of the parameters for the honorarium, but with that being said there are individuals who believe they should be a part if it and we have to take that into consideration which we’re doing but that decision does not lie specially with me. It lies with a policy decision we need to take going forward,” Dr Darville said.
Mr Ferguson said he understands that this is a new administration and the union is being very diplomatic. The union leader added the new government must be given an opportunity to sit in the chair properly and to make an assessment of what the concerns are and how they’re going to move forward and meet with unions.
Asked what will the union do if nothing happens, Mr Ferguson said: “We’ll have to take our conversation to another area with the view to ensuring the outstanding concerns are addressed. Now what form that’s going to take – surprise.”