Nurses ordered back to work or face committal to prison says court

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nurses_signing<<< The contract settling the issues was signed with former Minister of Labour Vincent Peet back on Thursday 8th December 2005. At left is Acting Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority Hannah Gray, and at right is Bahamas Nurses Union President Cleola Hamilton.  File photo by Eric Rose.

Nurses vow to continue their fight last evening. Click to listen to Love97FM report on last night’s meeting.

Nassau, Bahamas – Members of the Bahamas Nurses Union must now decide whether they will heed a court order handed down by Sir Burton Hall or face contempt of court charges and be thrown in jail!

The landmark ruling on Monday was handed down by the Supreme Court after being argued by Attorney General Micheal Barnett. Nurses must now huddle and decide their next move. On last week, members of the Nurses Union began a sick out campaign, a move which affected all public healthcare centers around the country. The protest was a move to force the government’s hand to honour their industrial agreement.

Bahamas Press notes here once again, however, that Perry Christie leader of the PLP and son of a former nurse, has yet to speak to the turbulent issues now presented by the nurses! Now that’s a WUTLESS LEADER FOR YA ECH? Hmmmmm!

Below is a statement by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham (one week since the dispute began) on industrial action by the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU).

For the sequence of events leading up to the BNU industrial action, please refer to the attached (click to see base of article pha-affidavit_of_brown / docpha) Supreme Court affidavit of Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority Herbert Brown.

Also Monday’s Supreme Court order regarding the industrial action is also attached.

STATEMENT BY: RT. HON. HUBERT INGRAHAM/ PRIME MINISTER
15 June 2009
/ On Industrial Action by Nurses Union
TRINIDAD-AMERICAS-SUMMIT-INGRAHAM
Prime Minister: The public is aware that for the last week members of the Bahamas Nurses Union have been engaged in industrial action resulting in their failure to attend at their work places at the Health and Medical facilities of the Government, including the Princess Margaret Hospital.

The principal reason for this action was said to be the Government’s inability to make financial provisions for medical insurance for the nurses at this time.

My Government had agreed to the provision of this benefit for the nurses but decided to delay its implementation because of unexpected pressures on the national budget due to the global economic downturn and subsequent drastic fall-off in revenue.

The Government, acting through the Public Hospitals Authority and the Minister of Health, sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to put an end to the industrial action being undertaken by some members of the Nurses Union with the apparent encouragement of union officers.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in the matter and ordered that the Union and its members be restrained from calling, organizing or procuring members to strike, or to refuse to work, or to refuse to work when scheduled to do so, or leave their employment or otherwise participate in any form of industrial action.

My Government now fully expects that all concerned will abide by the ruling of the court.   Whatever our grievances or circumstances, we are all as citizens bound to abide by the rule of law which has ensured the stability of The Bahamas and enabled the orderly delivery of essential services to the public.

My Government has always been committed to the welfare of all those who serve the Bahamian people in the public service, including and especially our nurses.   We will continue, as resources allow, to work towards improving conditions and benefits for Bahamian nurses.

We are, and have always been, open to continued dialogue on these matters with mutual respect for each other.   But the Government cannot and will not at any time — and especially during these trying times – abdicate its responsibility to protect the overall interests of the nation within the framework of good order and the rule of law.

  • @Joe Blow

    Right now is bad timing for the nurses to realize that they have a problem with their proposal especially when you consider the condition of the economy right now, but I guess they are saying its better late than never and seen that government is borrowing money they might as well get enough for them one time. Those nurses have been patience and I believe if the government really wants to satisfy those nurses they would be able to come up with ways to provide them with adequate insurance coverage. When I think about the nature of their occupation, I feel with all honesty this should have been put in place decades ago. I am just disappointed to know that is not the case and now that they are finally demanding it, they have to go through so much agony to get it.

  • Most contracts in the public sector are signed by the unions for a 5 year period.During some of those years it may not call for any salary/benefits for example-year 1 of the teachers union contract may call for a $800.00 lump sum payment.Year 2 nothing.Year 3 may call for a 4% salary increase and so on.Therefore nothing has to be budgeted by government until that time period.Any and all contracts negotiated by unions must be honored by the government of the day,there is an escape clause in all these contracts in the event of unforeseen circumstances,however both sides are COMPEL to sit down and agree to postpone or change the terms of the agreement.

  • Kim: The same nurses you are supporting are the same nurses that attend to us when we are hospitalized. Think about that. But my question was why did they accept the proposal and after consultation with Whomever?? change their stance? Another question might be asked. Why are only 50% ascribing to the sick-out and the rest reporting for duty as usual? Please believe me when ,as I said originally, i want the nurses to be given a medical Care package just as others in government have. But I also recognize that it might be a monitary impossibility at this time. Also. why is it that Vincent Peet negotiated the package and a pay raise while the PLP were in power and it did not take effect? Is it another case of late again? How does anyone make these promises or sign these contracts if they have not budgeted for same? We really must look at the whole picture before we comment on any one aspect. If you believe that a nurse at the hospital would feel uncomfortable about being hospitalized there you had better seriously be asking why.

  • You know what? When I thought about it, I don’t blame the nurses for not trusting PMH for their medial care. Those nurses know what time it is, look how that hospital gone and misdiagnosed that baby the other day. They have the whole country looking at that baby family suspiciously. You can’t even tell some people it did not happen, that family will always have to live with that cloud of suspicion over their heads, and they will never be able to live the allegations that were made down. I have not heard anybody from the hospital apologize to those people publicly yet. That’s how they like to gossip at that hospital so much, they took one look at that baby genital area and must see some little red bumps because of diaper rash and quickly reported that the baby was molested, before even getting a second opinion from a more experience doctor. They caused the police to pick up and question the parents who were already grieving the death of their little baby girl. They just added to those people pain. Whatever they diagnose you with in PMH, I suggest you take it with a grain of salt and go and get a second opinion. . So if those nurses are not comfortable with the government proposal for free medical service at PMH or any other government facility, I don’t blame them at all, because I know I don’t feel comfortable with it myself.

  • @Joe Blow

    What you have to understand, the nurses them probably did not think the proposal though properly when they accepted it. Another thing, some of them knows how they and their counterparts go when it comes to spreading people confidential medical information all over the street, so that might be the reason why they would prefer to have the option of going international to the doctor. In any event the government needs to stop trying to cut corner and give the nurses the same medical package that other government agencies has in place. Aint no other way around this Joe.

  • Information is that the nurses were promised and accepted a proposal of free hospital beds, free necessary drugs and all necessary care should they be hospitalized, while they waited for their health insurance policy to come into force. This was prior to their sick-out. So why did they change their mind? Seems like a fair option to me given the times we are in. The only drawback would be that they would have to be admitted to a government owned facility and some might prefer a private care facility.

  • Does the PM realize that they (in the govt) work for us, thethe people???

    Does the PM realize that they serve at our (the Bahamian people) pleasure???

    What they did to the nurses yesterday with setting up that USELESS meeting, was very sad… Things like that could cause the people to loose confidence in their govt!!

    I can remember HI begging the Bahamian people to give his govt. a chance to run the country once again but now he wants we the people to come to him on our hands and knees, what a Shame!!

    HI actually had the nerve to tell the nurses, who he works for I might add, that he will NOT talk with them as long as they are not on the job. This man really does not care about all the people out there who are suffering because they need regular health care… His focus should be on the people and not on the nurses!!

    But I must say again that I did not like the DECEIPTION by the govt setting up that bogus meeting with the nurses!! That’s shameful!!

  • Thomas Finley

    I do not believe that the IDB gives loans for re-current expenditure, but for capital works and studies/reports only. I may be wrong, but that is what my spider senses are telling me. The nurses need to go back to work and cut the crap. Why can’t they buy their own group insurance? The government does not pay insurance for private sector or self employed persons, and the Nurses’ lives are not at risk like the Police or Defense Force. They are low priority when it comes to hand outs. Go buy your own insurance if you cannot wait, or better still, start your own Insurance company or cooperative…

  • I have deliberately stayed out of this discussion as it is a no win situation for bahamians.Hopefully both sides can get together and agree with a middle approach.I remember when the teachers struck in 1981 even though they worked out an agreement later the relationship with the Govt at that time was never the same.Some nerves have been mashed in the present situation and will never change despite any agreement.The head of the nurses union is being attacked and will ensure that she maintains a hard line forever.In this scenario HAI should use the Christian council as arbiters.We all have lost and must now pickup the pieces.

  • tp

    @Joe Blow
    You are 100% correct, the goverment must find a way to pay the nurses.The nurses have made some serious personal sacrifices by being in this profession.
    In the mean time I believe they have made their point and they should go back to work while their union negotiate.Ms Hamilton is going about this wrong.I am begining to think she has a personal agenda for doing what she is doing.

  • media

    Now something is SERIOUSLY wrong in this country you know. How can the head of the hospital and the mediator of the meetings, between the nurses and the PMH, Harcourt Brown hold a press conference together?

    I mean this is like the Judge and a Criminal holding a press conference saying the victim should negotiate with us! THIS IS ONE JUNKANOO TOWN YOU KNOW?

    This then means the mediator is not mediating at all!

    THIS IS INCREDIBLE!

    Bahamas Press/Editor

  • rb75: Did you read my comment addressed directly to HAI and Dr. Minnis? I implored them to rethink their decision concerning medical insurance for the nurses. I even made suggestions as to how they could find the way if indeed there is no other way to find the funding. Your assertion that there was not a stipulation as to who could bid on the roads by the lenders is mistaken. And you are confused if you believe HAI misspoke in any bad way to the President of Harrahs. You must be referring to his words when addressing Parliament that he was not satisfied with the funding aspect of the project. After Harrahs spoke to him he was astute enough to know that they were unhappy with the delays by the Christie government and already had the signal that all was not well with their owh organization . We learned that they were indeed in serious problems themselves as it turns out. Mr.Ingraham thought we should be warned because there were so many who thought the project would lead to an abundance of employment. The Minister of Finance continues to do what he considers best for the country and that is one of the reasons why the electorate voted his party back in as the government. If we are not satisfied that he did the job we will vote him and his party out in 1012. Stop, look, listen and think things through yourself before you make your assertions based on what your propaganda machine spews out. There is an MNF side, a PLP side and the TRUTH.

  • rb75

    Joe ,

    I must correct you the money that the government borrowed had no such criteria and even if it did it was up to the government to grant the contract to who ever they decided .They decided to give it to a foreign contractor because Hubert Ingraham does not trust Bahamian contractors to carry out the works which is wrong because it was Bahamian contractors that completed the last road works and there was no reason why if this FNM Nazi regime was smart couldn’t award the contract in phases as was done by Brad Roberts under the PlP.

    Now to the nurse’s it was horrible how Ingraham spoke to them in parliament just how he spoke to the President of Harrah’s and had the whole country blackballed by the International investment community He has done the same thing too our nurses for the love of God if we could afford to spend the money ceased from drugs on buying the Defence Force new boats don’t you think that we could delay buying two of those boats and used some of that money for health insurance for the nurses .if it was only 10 million well Iam sure we have about half of that in the drug unit .

    In the end folks this is a failed government that does not care if it’s chief caregivers do not have access to the same facilities that they work at if sick .

  • Altec: Dis you bother to read the first of consecutive comments I made? You will see I’m most concerned about the nurses’ insurance plan and even made a suggestion about how to fund it if indeed money can be accessed from no other source. I didn’t miss any point, you just do not read everything and think it through.

  • Altec

    Joe Blow :
    Altec: Why is it so difficult to understand that in return for the granting of the $120 million the loaning entity had certain perameters that had to be be met. They loaned the money for road construction and one of the requirements was that the bids had to be opened up to worldwide bidding. A foreign company won the contract. Bahamians will be employed as well.
    [Reply]

    Joe Blow:
    As usual you missed the point so let me spell it out for you. If the government can go through hoops to get a $120 million dollar loan, why would finding the money for the nurses insurance be so difficult?
    You know the FNM is on the wrong side of this issue. Why cant you just admit it?

  • Omar Archer Sr.

    $41.50 risk insurance, I’d strike too…That’s suicide

  • Altec: Why is it so difficult to understand that in return for the granting of the $120 million the loaning entity had certain perameters that had to be be met. They loaned the money for road construction and one of the requirements was that the bids had to be opened up to worldwide bidding. A foreign company won the contract. Bahamians will be employed as well.

  • To HAI and Dr. Minnis: There is no doubt in my mind that you MUST rethink your decision to postpone giving the nurses a fair medical insurance package. Of all the essential services’ personnel they are the most deserving. Even though money is scarce and you are cutting back, this is the one area that must not be sacrificed. Call an emergency meeting of every Ministry and Department and have them find a way to make further cuts to institute this package. Even if it means reducing the work hours of every civil servant to the degree it takes to recoup enough money, it must be done. Yes, you won’t be popular with them but it must be done! “Open your heart and turn on your creativity”.

  • Altec

    The government could borrow $120 million to pay foreigners to pave our roads, but cant find money to pay Bahamian nurses. Go figure!

  • Please stop doing foolishness and pay for the insurance for the nurses!!! Right now, I would not be comfortable with myself or with anybody that I know being a patient in PMH, those nurses already hot how they were not able to get their way. I am afraid of PMH on a good day, so could imagine now. All this money yall keep borrowing, I can’t understand what yall doing with all this money. Yall should be able to squeeze a little something out for the nurses’ medical insurance. I don’t feel like those nurses are being unreasonable. This something yall should have had in place for them a long time ago. I really feel those nurses were very patience and yall really should not be carrying them through all of this.

  • This is my final comment on this post.Mr. prime minister i leave you with this advice,listen to the words of the song,”When a woman is fed up.”Bahamian women stood in the fore front of all the important changes in this country,indeed during the 1962 and 1967 election many wives told their husbands that if they don’t vote PLP they will get NO HONEY.Bahamian women are strong and once their minds are made up only GOD CAN GET THEM TO CHANGE IT.So prime minister reverse your course,give the nurses their insurance and PRETEND YOU WENT THROUGH MANY SLEEPNESS NIGHT TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.I am sure you will be able to fool some one with that act.To FNMS members of parliament my advice to you is if the prime minister does not back down then FIRE HIM.YOU FNMS MUST LOOK OUT FOR YOUR OWN SELF PRESERVATION.REMEMBER EVERY BAHAMIAN WOMAN IS A BAIN TOWN WOMAN,DON’T MESS WITH THEM!!!

  • It is just so ridiculous to see the extent those nurses have to go through in order to get some sort of medical protection. What is so stupid about it is the fact they work in the medical field and the government don’t have medical insurance in place for them. All these years, I thought they were straight. These people are so vulnerable to catching all type of diseases, because they are surrounded by sick people on a daily basis. They should have been the first set with medical insurance out of all the other government agencies. I am fully aware that there are some slack nurses who go to work to clown around and gossip all day, but that is no reason for the government to punish them, because there are some who take their jobs very seriously. This government doesn’t have any shame. How could they get a court order for the nurses to return to work, when they are not doing right by them? Talk about having the gall!!! We have some very dangerous people running this country!!!

  • Altec you are correct.According to information that i have received,i am told that after the minister of health told the nurses that they will not be obtaining medical insurance until 2012,the minister took a book and started to read it while the nurses’union were trying to questioned him!!!WHAT UTTER DISRESPECT!!!

  • Altec

    @kevin mckenzie
    Hey KM, form what i understand the Nurses Union felt dissed by the way the government went about things…It was wrong for them to find out the way they did. The PM cant tell them they wont get their insurance on the House floor. They should have been told prior. They working around sick people 24/7. if anyone needs insurance, its them.

    Dont forget that the last 2 years the FNM had in office was one filled with one union protest after another. Remember the union busting tactics HI tried to employ? The FNM is and always was anit-union. While i do hate some of the union tactics, i do realize their necessity.

    This could have been avoided had HI gone about it differently. you have to give people a heads up especially when the decision you make will affect them the most.

  • Government has the money or can easily raise the money to provide the nurses with medical insurance.Ask any one who works at the Central Bank and they can confirmed to you that government as recently as last year did a private placement of $45 million dollar registered stock which was purchased by NATIONAL INSURANCE.The other option is for government to divest some of its shares in BANK OF THE BAHAMAS to National Insurance.If goverment did any of these 2 options, government will have the funds to pay the nurses medical insurance by 9 pm tonight-16.9.09.However,mr.Ingraham does not respect ordinary Bahamians,we sat back and let mr.Ingraham cancelled numerous contracts after the 2007 election with out any legal consequences.NOW MR.INGRAHAM BELIEVES HE CAN DO WHATEVER HE WISHES TO US.

  • So does the govt think that forcing the nurses back to work with a court order will do well for their moral??? If they do, they are sicker than I thought!!

    Just look at all the monies that they are wasting on those round-a-bouts.. Those people left about 8 or 10 pallots sitting on a trailor over the week end and almost all of the sod grass have rot!! What kind of a people do they have doing those jobs?? They should have known better if they were real landscapers!!!

  • Tones

    Money to give the Symonettes and Kellys but none for poor hard working nurses medical insurance?

    Travesty!!!!

  • Typical of the fnm. Never had good rapport with the unions. The government of and for the ‘great whites’, the investor, and the illegal foreigners. Never a party for the small man!

    I always wonder how black bahamians could support the fnm. This is evident why they were like nomads in the wilderness for 25yrs changing party name, and appearances, but if you ‘walk like a duck, talk like a duck then you must be a duck.’