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Bahamas: Nurses Stage Walkouts Over Shift Change

NURSES yesterday upped the ante in their resistance to an impending “slavery” shift change by staging staggered lunch break walkouts, which slowed service at Princess Margaret Hospital and public health facilities throughout the country.

This action and whatever else nurses feel is necessary could continue for the rest of the week, Bahamas Nurses Union officials said.

In the face of these threats, the Public Hospitals Authority said it was not backing down over the new shift system, saying it had a legally enforceable document signed in December 2014 by the BNU’s former president agreeing to the changes.

Adding steps were taken yesterday to ensure minimal disruption in healthcare services in light of the nurses’ actions, PHA took issue with the claim the union was not given enough notice of the new shift system’s implementation.

In a statement released last evening, PHA said more than a dozen overtures were made this year to bring BNU back to the table for talks about the issue.

Yesterday BNU President Amancha Williams said about 500 nurses across country were expected to protest by taking their entitled one-hour lunch break, when they would normally only take a 15-minute tea break.

Ms Williams, along with scores of nurses and representatives from several other unions, held a press conference and demonstration outside Princess Margaret Hospital yesterday morning. It marked the first lunchtime walk out of the day. She maintained there will be no compliance with the new shift system come December 10.

Moments before, hospital security prohibited the nurses and news reporters from congregating at the main entrance of the Critical Care Block. Ultimately the nurses assembled at the stairs of the building just a few feet from Shirley Street. It is something Ms Williams said was “discriminatory” as doctors has just been allowed to assemble there weeks ago to voice their concerns.

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