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MRT Strike Notice Deliberate & Cynical

Attached is a media statement on behalf of the District Health Boards about the threatened strikes by Medical Radiation Technologists or Radiographers.

Media Statement

MRT Strike Notice Deliberate & Cynical
Tuesday 5 September, 2006

District Health Boards say the radiographers threatened strikes are deliberately and cynically timed actions to have the maximum impact on patients.

Radiographers or Medical Radiation Technologists* at seven DHBs - Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Hutt Valley, Tairawhiti (Gisborne), Lakes (Rotorua), and Bay of Plenty – plan to stop work for three days from Tuesday 12 September.

Dr Dwayne Crombie, CEO of Waitemata District Health Board and Spokesperson for the DHBs, says the radiographers’ union has also lodged notice of a second strike notice for all but Tairawhiti – this time for one day on Tuesday 19 September. A third notice has also been threatened.

“This tactic of rolling action is deliberately designed to minimise the impact on them and maximise the disruption to patients – the union is using patients as pawns.

“Services will be significantly affected if the 3-day strike goes ahead. The hospitals involved will be providing limited services, mainly for acute patients. Anyone with a life threatening situation will have access to X-rays but other patients will be sent elsewhere,” say Dr Crombie.

“Elective surgery at the hospitals involved will have to be postponed during the action and outpatient clinics will be reduced over the next week or so to ensure patient numbers are as low as possible if the action goes ahead.

“This campaign of rolling action is clearly designed to make it as hard as possible for hospitals to catch up and reschedule the patients affected by the first strike.”

Dr Crombie says contingency planning is well advanced and hospitals not involved in the strike will provide cover although this action has been organised

“We have two days of talks scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week – to serve another notice and threaten a third before we’ve even got to the table really questions the motives of this union and whether or not they’re negotiating in good faith. Threatening patient care doesn't make the union’s demands any more affordable.”

DHBs acknowledge these MRTs want terms and conditions consistent with other MRTs, but there are a large number of greatly varying rates and aligning them all is simply not affordable. “DHBs believe terms and conditions for all MRTs should be consistent with other Allied Health Workers and Nurses – our offer takes a significant step towards that.”

He says other health groups have overcome similar issues and reached a settlement without needing to strike. “MRTs are an important part of the wider healthcare team, but negotiation is more than giving the union everything it demands.”

“We want a negotiated settlement, but it can't be at any price. As with the recent strikes by Radiation Therapists and junior doctors, this group would be making a mistake to underestimate the resolve of the DHB.”


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