Nearly 30 irate employees of the Princess Margaret Hospital’s (PMH) Engineering and Building Department walked off the job yesterday, refusing to return until their unresolved issues were addressed.
One such matter was the administration’s decision to remove some workers off the shifts they have worked for the last 20 years.
According to Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder, the administration promised that the workers would not be removed from the shift until the hospital found qualified employees to work the night shift.
However, Mr. Pinder claims that on Wednesday one of the engineers had been forced to come on the day shift.
“While they are within their rights to have shift workers work a particular shift, we just thought that they would extend the courtesy for the gentleman because he’s nearing retirement age and he wanted to continue his last couple of years on the night shift before retiring,” Mr. Pinder said.
“The staff has given him the support because they don’t like some things that are going on in the engineering department and so we want these matters to be addressed and we want them to be addressed timely and favourably as possible.”
Mr. Pinder said as it stands only one maintenance worker is responsible for the night shift.
The workers are now lobbying for a minimum of two people to work the shift.
Another discrepancy was the separation of family members working in the same department.
Mr. Pinder said a staff member was asked to move from the engineering department because another family member works in the same area.
“We see some level of discrimination where in other departments within the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) they could have family members who are working together but they chose to break up what’s happening in the maintenance department,” he said.
“While we do not support father/son, husband/wife in a supervisory position managing their family members, if you’re going to do it you have to do it the right way and straight across the board. It cannot be done in just one area of the hospital but other areas are allowed to get away with it.”
Workers also expressed issues with promotions.
Mr. Pinder claims that the workers are being superseded by outsiders for positions.
“The PHA now has this practice of not wanting to really promote people. Every time there is a vacancy they advertise it and in most cases they are bringing in people, so it is stifling the upward mobility of people who have long tenure here and are looking to advance as it relates to ranks,” he said.
Following the interview with The Journal, the BPSU president said he was headed into a meeting with the hospital’s chief administrator and was looking forward to quickly resolving the matter.
Calls to the hospital’s administrator, however, were not immediately returned.