The Solomon Islands Nursing Association has been suspended as a Trade Union under the Provisions of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19)(No. 3) (Suspension of Trade Union)(Solomon Islands Nurses Association) Order 2020 for a breach of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19)(No.3) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”), Processions and Public Assemblies Act and the Essential Services Act.
In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister says, the government states unequivocally right at the start that ‘the government fully supports all its nurses that are working and serving the people of this country, regardless of where in the country they work, and what role they play, in the provision of nursing services to all the citizens of our country’.
“This level of support to, and respect for our nurses, is the reason the government, despite our poor economic situation, and inability to pay, has provided all the nurses and nursing aides working in Solomon Islands with one of the best Schemes of Service, this country has ever seen for any category of workers in its public service,” the statement says.
However, it says, the government is convinced after negotiating and working with the SINA Executive that the body representing the nurses in the country was not interested in or concerned about the real dangers our country is facing at this time with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Instead, SINA totally abused its role as a Trade Union, taking advantage of the current perilous state our country’s economy, as a result of the single largest development and health threat our country has ever faced since independence, to push its own agenda that completely disregards the danger facing this country. It completely disregards the oath of service its members subscribed to in their profession, and instead used the pandemic and our current situation to hold this country and its population at ransom for personal gain of itself and its members. It did not even explain to all its members the real reasons they were proposing the strike in the first instance, and a sit-in protest when they could not muster the support for a strike under the State of Emergency,” the statement says
PMO says unfortunately, the recent actions of SINA have brought into question the professionalism and integrity as a Trade Union whose sole purpose was to look after the welfare of its members
“How else can one explain the rationale that at the time when this county needs all its nurses onboard, to address a situation of potential national disaster and national security, SINA instead pulled its members out of service and instead holds the government and the people of this country at ransom to pay some more allowances to already extremely well-paid nurses.
“People of Solomon Islands, the call by SINA for its members to participate in a sit-in protest which was not approved by the appropriate relevant authorities was not a co-incident. It was a calculated strategy, aimed at bringing the government to its knees and using Covid-19 as the weapon to get what it wanted. You will all recall the Prime Minister in his weekly address on Monday 26th October, announced the four new Covid-19 cases among the footballers that came home from the England. You will also recall the Prime Minister stating that we are expecting some more cases among the passengers because of the poor behaviours of the Covid-19 positive soccer players that were on the flight.
“Members of the Public, we know our country was entering a critical period in our fight against Covid-19. This was the time when we, the people of this country, look to the nursing profession to give back to us, the citizens of this country their undivided attention and care so that they can give back to the citizens of Solomon Islands only a small part of the investment that we have provided to train, to employ, to house, and to pay huge allowances for. At the very least, we never expected members of our nursing profession to desert and turn their backs to our patients at the country’s hour of need,” the statement states.
“Yet, that was exactly what occurred on Friday 30th October 2020, and again on Saturday 31st October, and again on Sunday 1st November. SINA asked its nurses to neglect their calling, to desert their patients, to defy our laws, and to defy instructions from the government in-order to hold our people at ransom simply for gain.
SINA had dumped the Nursing Ethical Principles. It turned is back on the Nurses’ Pledge. It had hope to use the public’s emotions to put pressure on the government which is already brought to its knees economically by the Covid-19 pandemic, to pay even more allowances to nurses,” it says.
According to the government, only 73 nurses in total are involved with the Covid-19 operations. 69 of these are on the front line, and 4 as support team. All 73 nurses have been receiving their allowances.
“So why is SINA protesting when the nurses doing the work are getting their allowances?
“This planned call to withdraw the services of nursing staff at the NRH, HCC and Guadalcanal province serving close to Honiara, with an appeal to SINA members throughout the country to support their cause in Honiara, at a time when we all know we may have some more cases of Covid-19, is totally irresponsible and amounts to total unprofessionalism, unethical, immoral, negligent, and goes against every ethical standing governing nursing worldwide,” the statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, says.