Categorized | National News

PHA: ‘Extra Demands Made Strike Illegal’

While the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) wants junior doctors to return to work, it believes their extra demands made the strike illegal. 

Responding a press release issued by the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) yesterday, the PHA explained its negotiations with the union and acknowledged that the government agreed to settle the issue over holiday pay.

 “The PHA notes that even after meeting with the prime minister, where it was agreed that the entire $4.98 million owed would be paid over two installments in September and December of 2019, an even better offer than what the BDU originally requested, the BDU saw fit not to accept this generous offer and end their strike, but instead used the opportunity to make even further demands of the PHA, the Department of Public Health, the Ministry of Health and by extension, the Bahamian people; demands that have no bearing to its strike certificate and as a result, in the opinion of the PHA, turned a legal strike into an illegal one,” the PHA said in a statement.  

“The BDU has asked that their holiday pay be settled.  The government has agreed to this.  It is time for them to get back into the hospitals and the clinics and render much needed service to the Bahamian people.”

In addition to their holiday pay, the doctors’ demands range from increased health insurance to a request for Crown land for the construction of a BDU office.

According to the list of new demands, the BDU wants a timeline and agreement on one of its non-monetary compensation options as proposed in its communique on March 7, 2019. 

The non-monetary compensation options include an increase in the current health insurance benefits of junior doctors so that it would be on par with police and immigration officers.

Other non-monetary compensation options call for the construction of a paid parking facility on the hospital grounds for public use and tax exemptions.  

Approximately eight months ago, the PHA and the BDU entered into discussions concerning the settlement of holiday pay and both parties negotiated in good faith during that period.  

According to the PHA, one of the major points discussed between the parties were “the means of independently verifying each junior doctor engaged in providing services on each of the 47 holidays incurred during the period in question”.

The other two points included the “identification of the number of hours each junior doctor engaged in providing service on each holiday and the number of installments over which the ultimate agreed compensation amount would be paid”.

The PHA explained that as there were no means of identifying each junior doctor or the specific number of hours worked each holiday due to junior doctors not utilizing the swipe system, it recommended, and the BDU agreed to accept a payout that applied an across-the-board settlement to all junior doctors employed by the PHA.  

“Under this arrangement, holiday pay compensation would be based on length of service during the period under review, rather than actual hours worked on holidays by each junior doctor,” the PHA statement read. 

“On completion of the analysis by the PHA, it was determined that on average, the PHA required the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) of 108 junior doctors to work over the course of a 24-hour period on a holiday.  After some back and forth between the PHA and the BDU, the BDU ultimately agreed that the PHA’s assessment was in fact correct.  Using this information, along with the hourly base rate paid to junior doctors, the PHA calculated the full cost to engage the services of 108 junior doctors at double time to be $5.97 million.”

The PHA recognized, however, that while the full cost amounted to $5.97 million gross, each junior doctor would have received in their pay packages each month where a holiday fell, a portion of their double pay in the form of eight hours of base pay, which covered the initial eight hours of work they engaged in during their required 24-hour shift.  

“The value of the first eight hours of work for each junior doctor over the 47 holidays incurred accumulated to $995,708.  Given the fact that this amount had already been paid to the junior doctors over the period in question, the PHA advised the BDU that this amount needed to be deducted from the gross figure of $5.97 million, resulting in a net payable of $4.98 million,” the PHA explained.

“This explanation was provided to the BDU and was accepted by them by way of a letter dated May 14th, 2019.   The PHA finds it totally disingenuous of the BDU to give the Bahamian public the perception that the Minister of Health is now attempting to ‘insist’ that they sign an agreement that deducts an amount that is due them.

“After both parties agreed that the amount due to the junior doctors was in fact $4.98 million, the PHA proposed that the amounts be paid over six semi-annual installments.  The BDU countered with a request for a repayment period of four semi-annual installments.  The PHA advised the BDU that its financial position would not allow for the repayment to be shortened to four installments, but in the spirit of compromise, agreed to meet the BDU half-way by proposing a repayment over five installments.  This offer was extended to the BDU in June of 2019 but to-date, the BDU has refused to accept the compromise and instead made the decision to strike on August 21st, 2019.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook