Mediation Fails to Avert Further Strike Action in Public Hospitals
Nearly 2,800 Public Hospital Support Workers strike next week over the refusal by District Health Boards (DHB's) and the contractors they employ to negotiate a single Employment Agreement (MECA) for them. Mediation yesterday failed to avert planned strike action on Wednesday 13 December 2006.
Support Workers (i.e. Orderlies, food service workers, home aides and cleaners) have had their wages driven down to the level of the minimum wage over the last 10 years and want a single employment agreement so that they can be paid fairly and consistently across the country. The DHB's are refusing to negotiate a MECA because they want to continue to maintain the capacity to tender out the jobs of support staff to contract companies paying the lowest wage under 44 different employment agreements. The only way for the DHB's to address the chronic low pay of support workers in the sector, and to negotiate in good faith, is to negotiate a MECA.
"The DHB's attitude to, and failure to recognise and value their support staff, goes a long way to explaining the current on-going and widespread industrial action in our Public Hospitals" said Shane Vugler.
"The DHB's need to recognise there is significant frustration and anger amongst many staff over inconsistent treatment on pay and recognition. This is clearly demonstrated in the case of support workers by the fact that the Service and Food Workers Union has been in negotiations for 6 months and we can't even get agreement on a MECA, yet the DHB's have negotiated them for most other health workers." said Shane Vugler.
SFWU members have restricted the industrial action on 13 December to 1 ½ hours because they don't want to impact on patients at this point.
Support workers also want to avoid further escalation of this dispute so will be asking patients, their families and the community to contact DHB's CEO's and request that DHB's treat their support staff with respect, fairness and consistency and negotiate a single employment agreement for them.