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Black Friday For Napier Laundry Workers

Black Friday For Napier Laundry Workers Dhb To Wash Dirty Linen In Palmerston North

Twenty-five laundry workers at Napier Hospital heard today that their jobs were being axed in favour of a regional laundry proposal that would see Hawkes Bay hospital laundry trucked to Palmerston North each day for processing.

The decision was immediately slammed by Robert Reid, organiser for the Clothing and Laundry Workers Union (CLAW) which represents the affected workers.

"This is a small minded and short sighted decision made by a Board with only one objective, to save money and to hell with the wider consequences," said Robert Reid. "The decision is a bad one on a number of counts.

"It is bad for the workers concerned. They have given loyal service to the laundry and DHB over the years and are simply not considered when the dollars are counted. More than 80% of the workers are Maori, most are women. Many other people are dependent on the wages they earn.

"It is bad for the local economy and regional development. What use is it for Government to spend tens of thousands of dollars creating businesses in the Hawkes Bay, when it is responsible for closing a laundry business employing more than 25 people solely on cost saving grounds?

It is a bad risk. What happens if there is a closure of road for a few days? What about the extra risk of cross infection of having clean and dirty laundry carried long distances in the same truck? What about the further cross infection risk of mixing laundry from four DHBs together in the era of super bugs? And where is the back up if the regional laundry breaks down?" said Robert Reid

"The decision also makes no sense in terms of the unnecessary extra vehicles on the road. Why sign the Kyoto Protocol one week then take completely contrary action the following week?"

Mr Reid said the process of making the decision to close the laundry had been a sham. Two years ago the DHB and the union had agreed to a cost effective alternative local proposal for processing laundry for the DHB when the laundry had to move off the old Napier Hospital site.

"We were then told that the Minister of Health had instructed the DHB to review the laundry service again. It was obvious from the beginning that there was a pre-determined outcome. We made our concerns known during the review process and reserved our right to contest the outcome of the review. The union is currently taking legal advice on whether it can contest the DHB decision in the Employment Court," Robert Reid said.

CLAW will be also seeking to involve the Council of Trade Unions and the local MP's early in the new year to seek a political review of the "ill thought out" regional laundry proposal.

It is expected that the Napier laundry will close in July 2003.

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