A decision has been made to send an EPMU case against the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) directly to the Employment Court and under urgency.
The case concerns ADHB’s attempt to circumvent its own employment code and avoid what the union considers to be its obligations under the code of good faith in the public health sector.
ADHB proposes to contract out work to Transfield leaving the current maintenance workers to apply for jobs on different terms and conditions with no guarantee they will get them. This would cut pay and conditions for hospital maintenance workers, and cause job losses for many long-serving maintenance workers who are currently employed by Spotless Services NZ Ltd, many of whom have worked for in their respective hospitals for 20 years or more.
The move comes at the same time as the DHB is the focus of a parliamentary enquiry into its overspending.
EPMU lawyer Helen White says ADHB is trying to save money by targeting some of its most vulnerable workers: “Again workers are being asked to save the money. Again the first place the board looks to cut cost is amongst its lowest paid workers, even though many of these guys have worked loyally for the hospital for over twenty years.”
“The health board is looking for ways to avoid its responsibility to these workers,” says White, “it’s basically going to a lot of effort to cut their pay and conditions and that will cost some of these guys their houses because they have hospital accommodation as well as their jobs.”
Transfield has bid for the work based on the basis of ADHB’s advice that its code of employment did not apply and Transfield can lower labour costs.
“By taking this case we’re not just representing EPMU workers,” says White, “but all the workers facing this problem.”