Categorized | Featured, National News

Nurses Walk Out


         Some 500 nurses across the Bahamas  yesterday walked out over a shift change which they said lacks any input from or agreement of the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU).

“Today it’s a walk out, it’s not a strike. Today the nurses have taken their lunch hour to come to express to the public their concerns with the shift change,” said BNU President, Amancha Williams.

The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) last week announced that effective December 10th, there would be an eight-hour daily shift and a 40-hour work week, as opposed to the current 10-hour shift for night duty nurses.

PHA Managing Director, Catherine Weech, also at the time explained that nurses scheduled to work between 6pm and 6am will receive a $1.75 per hour premium in addition to their standard base hourly pay.

However, Williams said this is something the two sides did not mutually agree.

“The shift change is a slavery shift. It is not conducive to the worker, it makes the worker prone for medication errors; it also at the end of the day will cause more accidents; more injuries in the work place,” she said.

“It will also not allow the nurse to have a social life; it will have an impact on mothers,” she added.

“Mostly in the hospital,  we have mothers working. So what would happen is that the nurse will have to find a day care center.

“Who finds a day center at night, five nights a week?” asked Ms. Williams.

The BNU President argued that the new shift change will also affect the quality of service of health care service providers.

“This hospital is not providing the quality service that is needed for the public, we know that, so implementing a shift change will cause more problems,” she said.

“Here also in this building, the infrastructure of this building is terrible, you have mold, termites, rats,” she added.

“You have wards that are not operating, in the  Accident and Emergency Department  there’s a shortage, 60 patients to five nurses and three doctors on a given shift.

“How are we able to serve our people in these conditions?

“So we say to our government  providing quality service should be our priority.”

Ms. Williams said the PHA was given until October 5th to come to the drawing board, but refused to meet with the nurses – instead they went ahead implementing without them.

The nurses said they will not work the shift change because it’s not written in the industrial agreement.

“The nurses are saying they rather quit than to work this slavery shift.  This shift is not favorable at all, not at all, at $1.75 per hour, not at all,” Williams said.

“For our rights and the respect of nurses within this country, that is what we’re standing for, our basic rights and an industrial agreement, that is signed and registered by the government from 2015 to 2020,” said BNU Secretary General Julian Mullings.

“Don’t disrespect the union, don’t disrespect the industrial agreement, abide by the law as stated, you are not above the law, you must abide by the law.

“You’re not above the law, and that is all we’re saying, abide by the law, show some respect at the table, stop the bullying, show the respect and that is all we’re asking,” he said.

The nurses insist they are always willing to sit at the negotiating table.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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