Govt. Facing union uprising

HON. DR. DUANE SANDS Minister of Health

On Wednesday, junior doctors, joining the movement of their colleagues on the capital island of New Providence, withdrew their services at the Rand Memorial Hospital. Doctors at the Rand, and, the Princess Margaret Hospital in New Providence are claiming to be “due back pay for holidays and overtime.”

On Friday, the matter escalated at the Rand. The doctors met with hospital executive personnel and later with union representatives. Meanwhile, members of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) gathered at the Grand Bahama Office of the Prime Minister to protest because of their own set of grievances.

The National Insurance Board (NIB) is dealing with union issues. There is indeed a union uprising in the land.

We have been told that in general, Bahamian unionists are of the view that the government is insensitive to, even their modest requests, regarding entitlements that are long overdue. The national union issue is just another of many pressing matters the government is besieged with presently.

Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands says he is ignorant of any situation whereby a “doctor has not been paid.” The doctors and their union representatives insist the Public Hospital Authority (PHA) has full awareness of the matter.

Here is what Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress General Secretary Tyrone Morris had to say, according to the Freeport News.

“The doctors have had a number of outstanding issues going back to 2010 and then going into a more recent one in 2014. At the head of this dispute is the issue of holiday pay. For whatever the reason may be, the Public Hospital Authority just refuses to pay them for working holidays. It is not a negotiated situation. It is the law and they have not been paid.”

On the other hand, Dr. Sands said:

“I am not aware of any doctor not being paid. But, I certainly will find out whether or not there are any particular groups of physicians that have not been paid.”

There is an obvious communication problem, or otherwise, someone is not being forthright. It’s difficult to digest a scenario whereby there is an ongoing grievance issue between the PHA and a segment of doctors, at both hospitals and the minister is not aware of it.

It could be a lack of due diligence on the part of Minister Dr. Sands. At the very least, he ought to know of the significant matters within his ministry. If the minister indeed, was not informed of the issue with the doctors over holiday/overtime pay, the situation begs a question.

Why didn’t the PHA update Dr. Sands?

It’s a disorganized state of affairs this government is presiding over.

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