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SFWU submits counter-proposal to SDHB plan

SFWU submits counter-proposal to SDHB food service privatisation plan

The union representing the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) food service workers has submitted a counter-proposal to plans to outsource food production for meals on wheels and hospital meals.

The SDHB are considering a proposal from Health Benefits Limited (HBL) to privatise the service, giving the contract to Compass Group, in an attempt to cut costs. The Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) counter-proposal will save all jobs, save money, keep procurement local, and will not cost the DHB a cent to implement.

SFWU organiser Anna Huffstutler said that the original proposal and estimated savings calculations were flawed in their methodology, and failed to draw on the experience and “on the job knowledge” that SDHB staff have.

“The estimated savings are based on all DHBs using Compass, which won’t happen. It will cost $1.2 million to implement and is only going to make estimated savings of 0.05% to their total budget after 15 years.”

The SFWU counter-proposal on the other hand was much more realistic and was based on real world experience from many workers who understood the complexities of the service.

“These workers are loyal public servants who want the DHB to provide the best service, and have years of experience delivering that service,” she said.

“Who are the DHB going to listen to – hard-working, dedicated public service workers, who know the inner workings of a hospital kitchen through and through, or some pie in the sky bureaucrats with Disneyland numbers?”

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The HBL proposal also failed to recognise the community spirit that kept the DHB running, including the help of volunteer meals on wheels drivers.

“We’ve already had volunteer drivers make it very clear that they will not be giving up their precious time to deliver frozen meals so that Compass can make a few bucks,” she said.

The Invercargill City Council supported the SFWU counter-proposal.

“It is our strong belief that if [the original] proposal was to go ahead, it will have a negative impact by way of local job losses, loss of contracts for local businesses and potentially a decrease in nutritional food for patients,” Mayor Tim Shadbolt said.

“The Invercargill City Council supports the alternative proposal… to keep the hospital food services in house.”


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