Categorized | Featured, National News

Junior Doctors Strike

Drs Strike-1

Junior doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) stood in the rain on Wednesday morning to strike in solidarity after not receiving their holiday pay from the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA). 

All non-essential services were removed and only emergency staff remained on the job. 

According to President of the Bahamas Doctors Union (BHA) Dr. Melisande Bassett, it has been a battle for years. PHA’s managing board negotiated a settlement of holiday pay for junior doctors to cover the period from June 16, 2014 through October 31, 2018 at an amount approximating $4.98 million.

“When they were called to the table and agreed that they would pay, we started receiving payments in one instance and then they stopped. We’ve started negotiations with them on and off for years to try regularize the holiday pay,” Dr. Basset explained.

“Most recently, we sat down and decided we would write out back pay, the terms and conditions paying the doctors over the years they haven’t been paid. The final agreement that PHA was able to reach is for payments over five payments and one availability. To us, that’s unacceptable.”   

Standing in solidarity, a number of leaders of other unions came to the defense of the junior doctors. Nurses Union President Amancha Williams warned that PMH will shut down because of the constant stalling of pay.

“These matters and issues have been long gone. Meet the demands of the people. Why can’t you come to the people and come to the table and negotiate?  Come to the people and negotiate – not tomorrow,” Williams said. 

“You’re putting the Bahamian public at risk. We have an infrastructure at the hospital – it’s breaking down. The roof is caving in right now. We have bins up. This is the type of conditions we’re working in. We say to the government take a step forward and look and resolve the issue of your people.”    

Also onboard is Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson, who said his union is in full support of the junior doctors and demanded negotiations yesterday.

“These are basic rights. These aren’t issues that they ought to be out here for. The government of the Bahamas ought to move quickly,” he said.

“Collective agreements are enforceable, once it’s registered. So to try to put on the works a small industrial or private contract – to disregard the collective agreement is illegal. So, therefore, we ask the government to have those things corrected.   So we’re gonna be here until it’s resolved” 

Other union leaders such as Daniel Thompson, of the Union of Tertiary Educators of the Bahamas, National Congress of Trade Unions President Bernard Evans and Bahamas Public Services Union President (BPSU) Kimsley Ferguson showed their support. 

“If it’s a fight that he wants, it’s a fight that he’s going to get and of it takes squeaky wheels to get the oil trust me, the Bahamas Public Service Union is onboard with our trade union colleagues and we’re going to take the stand that is to cost our voices to be heard,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Dr. Basset added that they are trying to reduce the impact of the strike on the public and asked the public to be tolerant with them.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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