Categorized | National News

PHA Calls BDU ‘Disingenuous’

The Public Hospitals Authority called the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) “disingenuous” after it claimed that Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands “insists” that both parties sign an agreement concerning the deduction of monies owed to doctors.

Yesterday, in a response to the BDU, the PHA said, “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.

“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.”

On Monday, BDU announced that it’s continuing to exercise its legal right to utilize industrial action against the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and the Department of Public Health. 

In a release, the union reiterated that it has taken 10 years of failed negotiations to reach this point. 

The BDU added that it demonstrated restraint and held off industrial action for eight months attempting to conclude this matter amicably, considering its impact on the public. 

According to the release, in the union’s efforts toward conciliation it has conceded six years of holiday pay, which extends back to 2010. 

This accounts for money owed in excess of $10 million. 

The BDU added that it realized the financial burden this posed on the public’s purse and made numerous concessions. 

These include reducing the money payout to less than half, waiving all interest to the money owed and giving the government options for non-monetary alternatives like the construction of a parking garage, improved insurance or one-time tax waivers. 

The BDU explained that the government has acknowledged that the junior doctors are owed for working public holidays over the past ten years and made provisions for the funds to be paid. 

However, the union claimed that it has not been able to sign an agreement with Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands because he insists that he is entitled to make deductions from those funds.

The union added that it has been advised by its legal advisor that it would be foolish to agree to such a deduction as this would be contrary to what is constitutionally allowed. 

Additionally, the BDU said current government provisions will not bring what is owed current and no agreement has been made as to how holiday pay will be addressed in the future. 

The release explained that the union has expressed to Dr. Sands on numerous occasions that the members of the BDU are are ready to get back to work, but can only do so when there is a legal binding and fair document to sign, a timeline to resolve to the other outstanding issues and all of the money agreed to by Prime Minister Dr. Huber Minnis is paid to the junior doctors. 

The BDU added that the inconvenience and frustration that the public is experiencing lies “square at the feet of the minister of health”. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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