The Guardian August 22, 2001


Hospital maintenance workers fight outsourcing

On August 28, a rally will be held in the grounds of the Prince of Wales 
Hospital in Sydney's east by maintenance workers who are determined to 
overturn the Carr Government's attempt to outsource hospital maintenance. A 
meeting of the workers last week totally rejected proposals by the Minister 
for Health Craig Knowles to outsource South East Sydney Area Health 
maintenance services.

The Area Health Service has been trying to cut the jobs of 80 maintenance 
employees by outsourcing the maintenance work at the St George Hospital and 
the Prince of Wales to the company Boral.

The workers at their meeting authorised the Communications, Electrical and 
Plumbing Union to develop and co-ordinate a public campaign to defend 
health industry maintenance workers' jobs and the quality of service they 
deliver. Work bans are in place.

From the beginning the Government was determined to ride roughshod over the 
maintenance workers and their union. It gave Boral three years to develop 
their detailed plan to outsource maintenance while the employees were given 
just two weeks to draft a plan that would cut maintenance costs and enhance 
services.

The members put together a proposal that would save $1.62 million. Cost 
efficiencies would be achieved by cutting out items such as cars that are 
not fully utilised and adjusting the currently unbalanced skill mix.

The Government has had more than three months to consider the proposals 
that the workers were given just two weeks to develop. There has been no 
response from the Minister.

The union says this is a fight about sustaining real jobs, real wages and 
proper maintenance standards for these assets that are owned by the people 
of NSW.

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