Hospital staff to strike for pay hike

CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 07:59 20/05/2014

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Hospital maintenance and distribution staff will begin industrial action with a 24-hour stoppage from 6am on Thursday.

The move follows a breakdown in negotiations with Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) management over pay rates for 47 staff members at Christchurch, Christchurch Women's, Burwood, Hillmorton, Princess Margaret and Ashburton hospitals.

Mediation between staff, represented by EPMU organiser Ron Angel, and CDHB management failed to reach an agreement last Tuesday.

Angel said the action would have no impact on hospital patients but was designed to send a strong signal to management that staff were deeply unhappy with their pay rates.

Princess Margaret Hospital electrician Mike Corboy said staff were frustrated their pay had fallen well behind market rates during the past seven years.

"We're the invisible guys in green that keep the systems running and we just want our contribution and efforts to be properly rewarded in line with the rest of the industry."

He said the proposed action had not been taken lightly, but staff felt it was the only way to make a stand after years of broken promises. Staff planned to take to the picket lines at Christchurch Hospital on Thursday to make their views known, Corboy said.

The 24-hour stoppage would be followed by ongoing limited industrial action and would include such things as withdrawing from administration duties, not answering cellphones and not liaising with contractors.

"This will send a message to the board without compromising patient safety."

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