Workers ready to run rings around DHB
MEDIA RELEASE 11 08 04
Workers ready to run rings around DHB if wedding ring ban goes ahead says union
Food service and nutrition staff at Waikato Hospital have been informed by their employer that the proposed ban on wedding rings will go ahead, starting in November. Over 100 staff will be affected by this policy change, which will mean that workers will be forbidden from wearing wedding bands whilst on shift and if they defy the policy, they will be subject to disciplinary action. Since the issue was first raised, the workers, along with the union for the food services staff, the Service & Food Workers Union (SFWU) and the DHB have met to try to resolve the situation, but attempts to find resolution have reached stalemate, with management claiming that it is too dangerous for workers to continue wearing the wedding bands.
The SFWU and workers have only been able to find evidence of three minor incidents involving wedding rings in the kitchens at Waikato Hospital. These incidents have been addressed and safety precautions have been taken, but the DHB management still want workers to remove their rings.
“The workers have been shocked by their employer’s insistence that they remove their wedding rings, particularly when we can find no evidence of any other similar employer requiring such a restriction” says Darien Fenton, SFWU National Secretary. “For SFWU members the issue is one of showing respect for the emotional investment people have in their wedding bands, but Waikato DHB obviously isn’t willing to let staff have these kinds of attachments at work.”
“Maybe they would prefer it if their workers married their job instead?” says Ms Fenton. “The hospital claims this is an issue of health and safety; we say it is an issue of respect and basic dignity for the workers. For most people having to remove your wedding ring is a traumatic experience – but to have to remove it for such a flimsy reason is even worse.” she said.
“The real issue here is whether management is willing to respect workers and union claims that wearing a wedding band does not put the employee at higher risk of injury. So far they have not been willing to listen, instead preferring to order their staff to remove their rings.” Ms Fenton says. “Waikato Hospital management may be the bosses of the hospital but they are not ‘Lords of the Rings’ when it comes to whether staff can wear their wedding bands.” said Ms Fenton.