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South Island hospital workers striking today

November 27, 2009
For Immediate Use

South Island hospital workers striking form three hours today

Health workers doing essential administrative work in South Island public hospitals are striking for three hours today to protest against most being paid less than staff doing the same work in North Island hospitals.

The three-hour strike starts at 11.30am this morning (Fri Nov 23)

The strike involves more than 800 administration and clerical staff working for the South Island’s six district health boards. They are members of the Public Service Association and this is the third time in seven days they have gone on strike to protest their pay discrimination.

“This is the third time these workers have gone on strike to protest being paid less than staff doing the same work at North Island hospitals,” says PSA assistant national secretary Warwick Jones.

Clerical staff working for North Island district health boards have a bottom pay rate of $30,500 while the South Island clerical workers pay starts at $27,641 - just 78 cents an hour above the minimum wage.

“It’s unfair to pay workers less for doing the same work simply because they live in the South Island,” says Warwick Jones.

“The government needs to acknowledge this discrimination and work with the DHBs to bridge this pay gap.”

“The workers who’re striking do essential clerical work that enables doctors, nurses, radiologists and other clinical staff in hospitals to focus on treating patients.”

“They’re classified as essential workers and as such were required to give two weeks’ notice of their industrial action.”

“Yet their pay rates start at just 78 cents above the adult minimum wage,” says Warwick Jones

Eighty per cent of the South Island health workers striking today are earning less than the $37,500 accommodation allowance the government is prepared to pay cabinet ministers on a base salary of $243,700.

“The government has got its priorities wrong when it will pay a cabinet minister, on close to a quarter of a million dollars a year, an accommodation allowance higher than a year’s salary for a worker doing essential work at a public hospital,” says Warwick Jones.

Administration and clerical workers do a range of jobs essential to the operation of hospitals.
• telephonists who are the first point of contact for people phoning a public hospital
• ward clerks who administer hospital wards
• medical record clerks who keep track of patients’ medical records.
• medical secretaries who type up doctor’s notes.
• booking clerks booking patients appointments with specialists and for surgery.
• Clinical coders enabling the Health Ministry and DHBs to keep track of money provided for operations and other medical procedures.

The striking hospital administration workers in Nelson, Christchurch, Westport, Greymouth, Ashburton, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill will be joining rallies involving other low paid public sector workers who have also been hit by a government-imposed pay freeze.


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