Bahamas sick-out may end

For the second day in a row, staff members in the engineering department at the Princess Margaret Hospital called in sick yesterday in protest at a delay in their hazardous pay.

Submitted by Ed on May 18, 2007

However, all "sick" employees may be reporting for duty as usual today after discussions with management, who assured workers that the hazardous pay was on the way, said sources working in the Maintenance Department.

"They had a meeting with management, [the protest] was only for two days and everyone should be back [Thursday] morning," the source told The Guardian.

This resolution comes after sources confirmed that only nine employees - five senior members and four junior staff members - showed up for work yesterday, even fewer than the 12 workers who showed up on Tuesday to do the jobs of a 30-plus member staff. The drastic decrease in the number of staff reporting to work over the past two days has sparked a number of meetings between hospital management and union officials, said the source.

However, up to press time last night the outcome of the meetings could not be confirmed with either Herbert Brown, the Managing Director of the Public Hospital Authority, or Coralee Adderley, the Hospital Administrator.

In an interview with The Guardian two days ago, Brown noted that the staff members should have received their hazard allowance in May's pay period, as he had given specific instructions for it to be done. He also promised to ensure that the staff members would be awarded their pay under an industrial agreement between the Hospital Authority and the Bahamas Public Service Union.

According to Adderley, the industrial action did not interfere with daily operations at the hospital. "There was no disruption at all as we could handle it," said one of the sources at the hospital yesterday. "Whatever the situation, we have it under control."

He said for every unit within the department, except for the steamer/broiler section, there was someone to take care of any problems that may have occurred, including a specialist in air conditioning and plumbing - two of the most problematic areas.

The sick-out for a second consecutive day was predicted the day before by BPSU president John Pinder, who pointed out that the pay was retroactive to July 2005. Pinder said the workers should have received their money already and now it was up to management to keep their part of the bargain. He explained that management had promised the staff the hazardous pay on the condition that they submit a comparison with persons in other government agencies, as it related to salaries.