Categorized | National News

Judge Restricts Doctors

Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder handed down his ruling yesterday, restricting junior doctors from conducting a future strike.

Winder’s order said, “The Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) whether by itself, its officers servants and agents, forthwith or until further order be restrained from contravening sections 76 and 83 of the Industrial Relations Act by organizing or procuring its members to strike or to refuse to report to work when scheduled to do so, or leave their employment, or otherwise participate in any other form of industrial action.”

On August 21, junior doctors went on strike and withdrew their services from public hospitals.

On August 26, the minister of labour determined that the strike had affected and threatened the public interest and referred the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal in accordance with Section 76 of the Industrial Relations Act.  

The BDU was notified and, in accordance with section 76 of the act, it was obliged to discontinue the strike.

However, the strike continued and the government obtained an injunction to restrain the union from doing so.  

According to Winder, “The union claimed that the injunction ought not to continue as: 1. The dispute had already been settled by the prime minister on August 21, 2019 and could no longer be the subject of a referral; 2. The Tribunal has no power to order a resolution of the dispute between the union and the PHA; and 3. There was failure to be full and frank at the time of the ex parte application.”

He added, “For the reasons which follow I did not find any merit in the union’s claim and grant the restriction order sought by the applicants [government].” 

In an interview with The Bahama Journal, BDU attorney Obie Ferguson said, “The court ruled that the Industrial Tribunal has the capacity to deal with the trade disputes.” 

As a result, he said, the BDU’s application to have the injunction set aside was denied. 

“Now we take the view that the Tribunal, we say the Tribunal does not have the authority to impose terms on parties.  That’s our view.  So we intend to have discussion with the union so that they could decide which route they want to take.   There’s a strong possibility that the matter will be appealed,” Ferguson said.

The Bahama Journal also contacted BDU President Dr. Melisande Bassett concerning the ruling, but she refused to comment.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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