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Bahamas Nurses Union Arranges Meeting Over New Shift System by katty : October 27, 2018, 06:13:39 PM
NURSES nationwide have hastily arranged a meeting for Friday night to respond to the Public Hospital Authority’s announcement that a new shift system for them will go into effect on December 10th.

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams said she expects nurses will agitate for a sit-out, adding some of them having called for a strike despite lacking a strike certificate.

The drama follows PHA's announcement Wednesday that the four on/four off shift will change to a five on/ five off shift in over a month. The two sides dispute what affect the change will have on the well-being of nurses. The BNU insists it will leave them overworked but the PHA says it will reduce chances for accidents and errors. Nurses should be less overworked since more of them will be on duty during a single shift, the PHA says.
The two sides also dispute the legality of the shift change. The PHA says the change was agreed in a 2014 agreement between the BNU and the PHA. Ms Williams, however, insists that agreement is void because it was not adopted in the 2015 industrial agreement. That industrial agreement mandates that both parties agree to any changes, failing which the terms must remain the same until 2022 when the current agreement expires.

Under the new shift, nursers working between 6pm and 6am will receive a $1.75 per hour premium in addition to their standard hourly pay. Ms Williams said this is too low. Nurses in the United States and Canada receive premiums of $5 or more, she pointed out.

She predicted that changing the shift will encourage economic migration for nurses. “If shift change comes in I bet you they will lose another 200, 300 workers and more people would be calling in sick than do so now,” she said.

Ms Williams said nurses were blindsided by this week’s announcement. Nurses have reacted angrily, she said. “They are tired of PHA treating them the way they treat them. Their response is let’s go without a strike certificate. Let’s show them we mean business and they can’t treat us the way we are being treated.”

Most nurses participated in a strike poll this summer, overwhelmingly supporting the move. However, government officials said the poll didn’t count because not all nurses were given the opportunity to vote. The nurses have dismissed this as a poorly rationalized effort to withhold a strike certificate from them, noting that the nurses who didn’t have an opportunity to vote live in remote islands and were so few in number their votes would not have affected the final result.

“From they denied the strike certificate the nurses lost hope in the government system and the law of the land,” Ms Williams said. “That’s why you don’t play games like that. They made a press statement this week but never gave us a letter to tell us about the shift change first. That’s nasty business.”

As for Friday night’s meeting, she said: “I think what they want to do tonight is sit out until the government decides to sit there and talk to them. The prime minister promised that. When we left his office he said he was going to arrange so that if it takes all day we’ll sit down and come to an agreement. We don’t have to come to the table. We have an agreement that’s not up until 2022 but we decided to come to them to find the best avenue and they have disrespected us.”
Source : Tribune

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