The Guardian June 20, 2001


No time off for blood sacrifices

by Peter Mac

Sydney Blood Bank suffers from a chronic shortage of blood supplies. This 
is particularly evident during critical road accident periods such as long 
weekends.

The Blood Bank makes available a small bus to transport employees to and 
from local blood transfusion centres, and Council employees in various 
local government areas of Sydney have therefore recently decided to make 
contributions of blood on a regular basis during their lunch breaks.

The employees' union, the Municipal and Shire Council Employees Union, is 
backing the council workers' initiative.

A spokeswoman for the union, Caroline Moore declared last week that "Our 
members are offering a community service, and they have begun a real drive 
to give blood."

Leichhardt Council employee Glen Camenzull remarked that the trips on the 
Blood bank bus have become a tradition that should be formally recognised.

However, giving blood reduces the body's ability to cope with physical and 
mental stress, including that of driving a truck and heaving garbage bins 
around.

The Blood Bank. has advised municipal employees against going back to work 
immediately after donating blood. The union agrees. As Caroline Moore 
commented: "We don't want people endangering themselves and others by using 
heavy machinery if they are feeling faint."

The public spirit of the employees, and the excellent example they're 
setting their fellow citizens, has been acknowledged by many organisations 
and individuals  and even by some councils, albeit grudgingly.

You might think therefore that this would persuade the local government as 
a whole to allow council employees time off to recover from a blood 
donation.

After all, the human body needs time to replenish its blood supply after 
blood is donated, and most donors make a contribution once a month at most. 
At that rate, the total time needed to be taken off, allowing for holidays, 
would be equivalent to about two and a half days per year.

But no! Local government in NSW has so far refused to grant any such 
concession to its employees, in fact the President of the NSW Local 
Government Association, Peter Woods, has dismissed the idea of granting 
recovery leave in a formal award, which he recently dismissed with a sneer 
as "dopey".

He wants individual councils to "use their discretion" in granting leave  
which means that they could also use their discretion to reject it.

The union has decided to mount a campaign to gain recovery leave for 
employees who give their blood.

In the meantime, the general public could be forgiven for concluding that 
Sydney councils are more concerned about taking advantage of the city's 
rocketing real estate market than providing service to the public.

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