Stakeholders are calling a contract signed between the Government via the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA), and the Bahamas Nurses Union, August 24, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister, a very significant and transformative one that focuses on retention and properly compensating nurses for their contribution to the country.
Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, said he was excited to be a part of the exercise. He thanked the nurses for their dedication and commitment to the Bahamian people and said that they play a significant role in the welfare of the country.
“Our relationship with nurses has grown and I am pleased to be signing this contract along with the PHA,” said Dr. Darville. “Nurses are the backbone of healthcare services and continue to display their commitment to the Bahamian people. They have been through a lot in recent times, especially during the pandemic, where many of them lost their lives. The government is appreciative of what they have done for the Bahamian people and so we intend to live up to our commitment to deliver the highest level of healthcare services to the country and that includes taking care of our nurses.”
Managing Director of the PHA Aubynette Rolle, and Chairman of the Board of the PHA Andrew Edwards, both thanked the nurses for their hard work and said that the signing marks the beginning of meaningful discussions and cooperation in the future. Mr. Edwards said this is the first of several contracts the government will be signing. He said that are four unions representing workers.
Bernard Evans, chief labour consultant/negotiator for the government, said that more has to be done to ensure that trained nurses are encouraged to remain in the country. He said this step is the beginning of that process. President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Obie Ferguson, was also in attendance. He thanked the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health and their teams for their leadership in the discussions with the unions and encouraged other union leaders to exercise patience with the government when negotiating.
He said that the government has been living up to their commitments thus far. President of the Bahamas Nurses Union, Amancha Williams, commended the government, especially the Prime Minister for his compassion and understanding and said that this contract was one of the best ever signed. She also thanked the nurses of Grand Bahama and the Bahamian people for their support.
“I wish to thank the Minister of Health and his team for our productive meetings and also Prime Minister Davis for easing the pathway for successful negotiation,” she said. We had a good session of discussions but this is just the beginning. We wanted to ensure that nurses were treated fairly and were properly compensated and I must say that this industrial agreement reflects that, and is one of the best ever signed on behalf of the nurses.”
The new industrial agreement includes a retention bonus of $3,000 after every three years of service, an allowance for uniforms, a pandemic and disaster benefit, an increase in base salary, and insurance which includes a death benefit while serving in the line of duty of $100,000.
By BETTY VEDRINE/Bahamas Information Services
More photo highlights below: