Industrial action at the state-owned Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has been called off after the hospital reached agreement with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) on a 24-hour shift system at the Pathology Department.
The QEH advised staff of the department on December 30 that it would begin the shift system on January 1, 2016, angering the union, which responded by threatening industrial action unless the two sides sat to discuss several areas of concern related to the 24-hour system.
The NUPW’s field officer attached to the hospital Natalie Murray told Barbados TODAY at the time that the union was not opposed to it but demanded prior consultation to address critical issues such as health and safety and remuneration.
The proposed action was called off after the management of the QEH agreed to defer the introduction of the shift system when the two sides met on Tuesday.
And yesterday, NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith reported that her delegation left that meeting having secured important concessions.
“The matter of the implementation has been postponed until certain things are put in place. We discussed a number of issues, but the
core issue would be the additional staff that would be needed to properly implement the shift system at the hospital,” Smith told
She said a request for 14 additional workers, including support staff, had been forwarded to the Ministry of the Civil Service and she looked forward to a speedy response, “because it is a very critical area” that was being discussed.
“So we are satisfied so far with the discussions and we will continue to have dialogue,” the union boss added.
When contacted, the QEH’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Dexter James confirmed that the new shift system had not yet been introduced, but he could not say how soon it would begin.
“Not at the moment, but soon. [I] can’t say right now [when it will be implemented] but there are some things that we have to put in place and when that is done you would be apprised on this,” assured the health institution’s chief.
The union complained last month that some employers were bent on by-passing the age-old consultation process which has been an
integral aspect of good industrial relations and best practices.
It also warned it would adopt a more militant approach this year and would no longer tolerate employers who failed to honour collective bargaining agreements.
The union had earlier accused the hospital management of not responding to several of its letters regarding the present issue of a 24-hour shift system in the Pathology Department.