Bahamas Government and Nurses Union Sign Industrial Agreements

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Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez and Nurses Union Officials at the signing of Industrial Agreements at the Ministry of Health, December 30, 2015. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)
Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez and Nurses Union Officials at the signing of Industrial Agreements at the Ministry of Health, December 30, 2015. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Senior health officials from the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health Wednesday, December 30, 2015 signed off on two key Industrial Agreements with the Bahamas Nurses Union on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Public Services also played key roles in the negotiations.

The Agreements were signed as the nation anticipates introduction of Universal Health Coverage for all Bahamians through the National Health Insurance plan (NHI), beginning January 2016.

Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez, one of the signatories on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, said the signing was a “Red Letter Day” with regards to the continued provision of primary healthcare throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as public health nurses play a critical role in the delivery of primary healthcare to Bahamians.

The Public Health Nurses (Nurses working for the Department of Public Health) are also expected to play a leading role in the execution of certain components of the National Health Insurance plan.

“In fact, I refer to them as the unsung heroines of The Bahamas because of the work they do,” Dr. Gomez said, adding that it was a Public Health nurse who “adorned the protective gear and boarded a plane to inspect that plane that was suspected of carrying a passenger suspected of having Ebola. It is the public health nurses that keep our country safe whatever the infectious diseases challenges are in our country, and so for that we should always be grateful to those people who wear those uniforms and are proud members of the Department of Public Health,” Dr. Gomez stated.

The Industrial Agreements signed Wednesday at the Ministry of Health will cover two five-year periods – 2010-2015 and 2015-2020 at a cost of a little over $4.382Million. The 2010-2015 Agreement mirrors the 2005/2010 Industrial Agreement with the exception of a uniform allowance increase of $50 per month with effect from July 1, 2012. Nurses received their lump sum payment of $300 in December 2014, for the period July 2014-December, 2014. Further, as of January 2015, nurses were receiving the $50 increase on their monthly salaries.

“The only outstanding commitment for the 2010/2015 period is the retroactive balance owed for uniform allowance for the period July 2012 to June 2014, which will be paid as soon as possible,” Dr. Gomez said at Wednesday’s signing.

“I wish to reiterate what I have always said and what I know to be a fact and that is that nurses are the primary frontline workers in the delivery of primary healthcare and one of the cornerstones in the implementation of National Health Insurance.

“Consequently, I am very pleased, as the Minister responsible for Health, to be a part of the execution of these Industrial Agreements and this Red Letter Day.”