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The Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) last night (October 13) ordered a resumption of normality within the nursing service at all public hospitals, including the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), as of seven o’clock this morning.
The Back-to-Work Order issued by the IDT last night read, “The Tribunal hereby orders that such industrial action which has begun in contemplation or furtherance of the aforesaid industrial dispute shall cease and determine with the resumption of work by the parties from the 7 a.m. shift of Wednesday, October 14, 2009.”
The Tribunal was chaired by veteran industrial relations expert, Anthony Irons, and also included Lloyd Brown and Edward Dixon.
The order was directed at some members of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) who reported ill for work yesterday, creating a severe strain on the reduced nursing staff at most Government hospitals.
A release from the Ministry of Health showed reduced nursing staff operating at several hospitals, including the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the National Chest Hospital in Kingston and the Princess Margaret Hospital in St. Thomas.
Despite claims by the NAJ that it was not aware of an industrial action, the absences were linked to an ongoing dispute between the association and the Government over a reclassification which has been due for several years.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security said in a release early yesterday that unless normality resumed by 2 p.m. the Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles, would have to report the matter to the IDT to ensure against any deterioration in the situation and to protect the public’s interest.
Mr. Charles did report the matter to the IDT yesterday evening, after a similar trend of absence continued.
The Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act (LRIDA) allows the Minister to refer disputes he is unable to resolve to the IDT for resolution. In addition, Section 9 of the LRIDA forbids industrial action in essential services such as the health service.

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