15 August 2006
Hospital Service Workers See Red in MECA Negotiations with DHBs/Contractors
A nationwide series of actions involving workers from 21 District Health Boards will take place tomorrow highlighting the plight of thousands of low paid domestic and support staff.
Several thousand cleaners, orderlies, kitchen, food and other service workers will holding rallies and protests this week to support their campaign for one national collective employment agreement covering the boards and four major contract companies.
Service and Food Workers delegate Averil Turner is a cleaner at Dunedin Hospital. After 34. years she earns just $12.69 an hour.
"We've been told we have to carry the costs of traveling to the national pay talks."
"After five days of bargaining we haven't even been able to get the employers to agree on who pays for lunch!"
"On top of that the employers appear to be determined to stop staff meeting during working hours to discuss the bargaining."
The continuing low pay in the sector prompted the Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota to initiate bargaining for a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) with District Health Boards (DHBs) and the contract companies who provide services in the public health sector.
Even before the negotiations began a number of key employers are already sending messages that they do not want a MECA.
"Our day of action is to show our employers that we are serious about our MECA. We deserve recognition for our role as part of the hospital team and health workforce" said Averil Turner, a cleaner at Dunedin Hospital.
"We want a fair deal," said Averil Turner, "today we are talking to members of the public at our hospitals and asking whether they value a clean and healthy hospital and if they feel we are valued for the work we do."
SFWU Nga Ringa Tota advocate, Shane Vugler said "District Health Boards and contract companies can't get it together and this is holding up the negotiation process for our service workers."
"We want to move forward towards a MECA and these employers are standing in the way of us meeting and reporting back to our members" said Shane Vugler.
Rallies and information stalls are being held at hospitals throughout the country today, in every District Health Board.