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News Media Releases Peel Health Campus locks out workers over t-shirts
Peel Health Campus locks out workers over t-shirts
Monday, 24 May 2010 12:50

Media Release - May 24

Earlier today, Peel Health Campus carried out its threat to lock out workers who wore t-shirts over their uniforms while trying to work at the hospital.

Health support workers and enrolled nurses, who have not had a pay rise in 18 months, were told by management they would be ejected if they tried to wear the t-shirts on the wards. The t-shirt in question has the message “Lowest paid hospital worker in WA. Privatisation Stinks!”

The workers, who included kitchen staff, cleaners, enrolled nurses, patient care assistants and orderlies, decided not to take the t-shirts off and walked out of the hospital.

Local MP David Templeman and LHMU assistant secretary Carolyn Smith met the embattled workers outside where they chanted “Peel get real, pay us a fair wage”.

The workers then took off their t-shirts and returned to their duties. They instead wore badges with “Peel get real, pay us a fair wage” written on.

A memo containing the lock out threat was sent to all employees at Peel on Thursday. Management at the hospital claim staff must wear their uniform because it is a health and safety requirement. They also said “the identification of individuals is essentially a duty of care”. 

However, members have told the union that there are regular themed no uniform days at Peel.

Before the lock out, the workers voted to reject Peel’s latest offer of 3.25%, 3% and 3 with no back pay and the loss of penalties on their sick leave. The workers decided to table a counter offer of the same percentage rates, but with nine months of back pay and the retention of their sick leave penalties. Management said they would get back to the workers.

Carolyn Smith, assistant secretary of the LHMU said: “This lock out of workers has not happened in WA for many years so by doing this, Peel have exposed themselves as the state’s worst employers. 

“These workers are simply trying to get themselves a fair pay deal and their t-shirts are part of protected industrial action that they are taking because of their horrific treatment by Peel. 

“Considering that Peel regularly has no uniform days, it’s ridiculous for them to claim that the wearing of these t-shirts is a health and safety issue.

“By stopping workers who care for members of the community just because of their t-shirt , it is actually Peel Health Campus which is threatening health and safety and its duty of care to local people.”

The workers staged a 30 minute stop work meeting outside the hospital a few weeks ago and the t-shirts are part of their protected industrial action.

Simone McGurk, secretary of Unions WA, condemned the actions of Peel Health Campus and said an employee lock out had not happened for some time in the state.

“These are bullying tactics by an employer who should be acting in the best interests of the community, not their own agenda,” said Ms McGurk. “Stopping essential members of staff from working is not a constructive way to behave.”

 They currently struggle to live on wages which are almost $4 per hour less than colleagues doing equivalent jobs in government hospitals. Peel Health Campus made a $45m profit from 2000 to 2009.

Health minister Kim Hames has so far done little to help the workers. He is meeting with Peel Health Campus boss Jon Fogarty this week but has yet to contact workers to hear their views even though the minister says he wants to “mediate” in the dispute.

Carolyn Smith is available for comment

Contact: Jo Manning at the LHMU 9388 5492 / 0401 711286

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