Wednesday, April 24, 2024

QEH on notice

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The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has rejected calls for talks on Thursday with Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) officials, and warned of possible protest action.Contending that the QEH was giving temporary employees a raw deal, the union gave notice yesterday that it was prepared to mobilise junior doctors and other staff to fight for an improvement. The union and the QEH are at odds over the status of temporary workers. Last week the QEH made it clear that these workers were not guaranteed appointments.In a Press release, the hospital stated that “contrary to what has consistently been published and broadcast, an arrangement for temporary relief, or subbing as it is called, cannot constitute appointment to a post”. However, during a 70-minute meeting yesterday in the QEH auditorium, NUPW general secretary Dennis Clarke told hospital workers that was not the traditional position.He said the QEH human resources committee was breaking with the agreed industrial practice by picking new employees in cases where people had been working on a temporary basis in the hospital for as many as ten years.“They are taking advantage of people who have been propping up the hospital for ten years and under,” he charged.According to Clarke, some orderlies as well as people working in the  laundry, housekeeping and accounts departments could be adversely affected by the QEH employment policy as spelt out in a circular last February.Clarke and NUPW acting deputy general secretary Roslyn Smith told the gathering that a large number of people holding posts at the QEH had benefited from the tradition where “the most senior substitute” or temporary worker was appointed when a vacancy occurred in the  department in which they worked.Clarke reported that the human resources committee had called for a meeting with the union on Thursday to deal with the issue.He said that in view of the scant respect the committee and the QEH board had paid the union he was not prepared to rush into a meeting.He charged that the committee had repeatedly ignored the NUPW’s appeals for a meeting to discuss the same issue. He told the gathering that while the union did not want to disrupt work at the hospital, if it needed to mobilise 1 000 to 1 500 of the 2 500 QEH employees to meet chief executive officer Dexter James, it would do so. He said the union had no quarrel with James but with the board and the committee. (TY)

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