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‘Playing politics’ at QEH


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 A HIGH-RANKING member of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) thinks the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has become a playground for politicians.Acting deputy general secretary of the NUPW, Roslyn Smith, made this charge before more than 60 hospital staffers, who staged protest action yesterday morning following the decision to place two women, who recently joined the facility, on staff ahead of dozens of long-serving temporary workers. “This hospital has about 2 500 workers, 1500 of whom are temporary workers. It has really become a playground for the politicians,” said Smith who joined workers with placards reading: Do Not Mess With The Nation’s Health, Do Not Ignore Workers’ Grievances, and Do Not Ignore Our Rights.NUPW General Secretary, Dennis Clarke, said it was scary when temporary workers were afraid to take vacation for fear of not being brought back on.“We have no problem with the minister bringing on his people, but there is a way to do it, a way that will not disadvantage people. Imagine in this day and age, we are saying that temporary workers don’t have any rights,” he said.Clarke told office staff, workers from kitchen, house-keeping, laundry and engineering, he wanted a level playing field.“The bone of contention has to do with the temporary workers, who would have been substituting over the last six, seven or more years. When someone goes off on holiday or sick leave, these people come in and work till eventually there is an opening and that person then will get the pick.“What they have done is bring in people from outside to go in the vacancies instead of bringing the ones who are substituting,” he said.Clarke said it would have helped had the hospital’s chief executive officer, Dexter James, been more pro-active in dealing with the matter.The Human Resource Committee is  expected to address the issue on Thursday. Clarke said he was surprised that the hospital had involved the chief labour officer. “We haven’t got to the table yet. Talks have not began. So therefore, there can’t be any breakdown in talks when talks ain’t start.”  One of the major concerns, said Clarke, was the employment of a woman in laundry, who has been filling a vacancy since January. “If you are temporary but you are working straight and you work for six months, then you will get appointed.  That means she come in January and she will get appointed in June.  “What happens to all the other people who were subbing seven, eight, nine years ago. Is that right? Is that moral?”