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More, Higher Paid Maintenance Staff – Not Cuts

More, Higher Paid Maintenance Staff – Not Cuts

“Further delays to a CDHB hospital maintenance proposal for change have angered workers who are calling for more trades staff and a 30% catch up in pay,” said Martin Cooney, Organiser of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today. He was commenting on yesterday’s deferral for a further three weeks of a proposal to centralise and cut up to 26 maintenance and technical staff out of 100 in the country’s biggest health board.

“Electricians for example have been understaffed over most of the nine month period of the review and work has now fallen behind to the extent that mandatory standards are no longer being adhered to in the CDHB,” said Martin Cooney. “Two registered electrician lasted only a short period before leaving for better money and less stress. Contractors are simply unavailable due to the pressure of private sector work.”

“Electricians have watched their private sector colleagues gain 26.6% increases since the Labour Government was elected. Rates for State Sector maintenance staff were already lagging behind from the 1990s. Meanwhile the Government has injected less than the rate of inflation for Hospital wages. This year while NUPE had lodged a 30% claim for health workers, the Government has only funded Boards with 1.7% for pay rises for staff in the health sector in 2005.”

“Cuts in Hospital support services such as maintenance lead to major risks to patients. Maintenance staff know that Doctors and Nurses cannot operate in the dark,” said Martin Cooney. “Staff are aware that the CDHB is trying to save about $43m from the introduction of Population Based Funding and this is the real driver for the review and the cuts. The Government must put the money into health to stop the cuts and employ qualified staff at the right rates of pay.”

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