Fed up Gateway mental health workers to strike
Mental health workers at Nelson-based Gateway Trust will walk off the job on Tuesday, 21 August to protest years of delays in sorting out new employment conditions.
Two strike notices have been issued. The first is for the stoppage on Tuesday for one hour, from 3pm to 4pm, when members will be picketing.
The Trust, which provides mental health services as well as the Snapshot outreach service for young people, operates in Greymouth, Nelson, Motueka, and Blenheim.
The Collective Agreement expired more than two years ago, and with restructuring changes at Gateway, the matter is now urgent, says E tū organiser, Ria Holmes.
“Any attempt to settle the Agreement has met with excuses, obfuscation and delays by Trust management,” she says.
“Workers feel they are being bullied. They’ve been threatened with the loss of their jobs and the Trust is restructuring which could affect members’ hours and even their jobs.
“They want the protection of a Collective Agreement. We are also seeking the inclusion of a redundancy clause, given the threats that have been made.”
Gateway delegate, Marie Benton says members reluctantly voted to strike because it was the only option left after months of talks, including mediation.
“Taking time away from vulnerable children and adults is a hard thing to do”, she says.
“But in the same way that nurses and teachers have been speaking out, we have to stand up for what’s right.
“We care for and support people who face real challenges in managing their mental health. Yet our management shows none of the care and support you’d expect from an organisation which provides these services.”
Ria says Gateway is alienating a workforce that is professional and dedicated, raising serious questions about its ability to provide leadership in mental health services.