‘Carry on, doctors’ - but end in sight

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

DOCTORS had a productive meeting with finance officials yesterday, pulling them closer to full service after more than a week of industrial action.

However, the Consultant Physicians Staff Association’s partial work stoppage will continue until it signs an agreement with the government. 

CPSA secretary Dr Sabriquet Pinder-Butler said doctors are hopeful of fully returning to work this week.

She and Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson declined to give details about yesterday’s meeting.

Doctors are fighting for an increase in their base salary and want health insurance benefits and a pension plan.

“During the meeting, compromises of principles were made, understanding the position of the government,” Dr Pinder-Butler said, adding the “protest persists”.

She added: “We’re not going to return until we’re able to sign something satisfactory.”

Mr Johnson echoed her view that the meeting went well.

Doctors were satisfied with their meeting with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on Monday, which paved the way for yesterday’s meeting with Mr Johnson and a Public Hospitals Authority representative. 

According to CPSA President Dr Locksley Munroe, the CPSA secured Dr Minnis’ commitment to increasing their base salary from $48,000 to $60,000 and giving them health insurance.

The $12,000 base salary increase constitutes the Public Hospitals Authority’s last offer to the CPSA. Doctors previously rejected it. Dr Munroe said accepting it now represents a major compromise for them because they wanted an increase to $75,000.

Had PHA not refused to negotiate with them last week, senior doctors would have accepted the increase then and returned to full service last week, he claimed.

Consultants are required to work 20 hours per week and have five weeks’ vacation. The CPSA is among a number of unions with unresolved labour disputes. Among medical professionals, the Bahamas Doctors Union, which represents junior doctors, and the Bahamas Nurses Union, have pressing concerns as well.