Thursday, February 10, 2005

Nurses plan ‘No Uniform’ protest

Outgoing Nursing Section yesterday declared that they will be carrying out a protest action on Saturday by not wearing their uniforms.

Michael Netto told the Chronicle that this protest will be followed up next week with a one hour walk-out during lunch time, possibly on Monday.

"Safe manning levels for patient care will be maintained in the wards,” he added. Mr Netto also urged the Gibraltar Health Authority to “put their offer to staff if there is one,” and said that the TGWU should call an election for the Nursing Section Committee.

Meanwhile, in reply to questions regarding the trade union issues of the past few days, Ernest Britto the Health Minister declared that as far as the Gibraltar Health Authority was concerned, there was no dispute with staff who, he said, “were contributing 100% to the move.” And he warned against those who were seeking to “destabilise” the programme of health reforms. Mr Britto said:

There is no dispute between the GHA and staff. There have been a number of claims from trade unions that we are dealing with but none in connection with the move to the new hospital that are not being progressed to the satisfaction of the GHA and other people involved.

Mr Britto insisted that claims were being divided into those linked to the new hospital and those that were not. The former had been negotiated and agreed in the lead up to the move, while the others were being dealt with separately.

As regards the case of contract workers who have complained about the effects of the changes to their individual conditions, particularly those who say they are being instructed to move to the Elderly Care Agency whether they like it or not, Mr Britto said that no-one in the Gibraltar Health Authority has been forced or coerced against their will. He explained that staff were offered inducements to voluntarily accept to be transferred to the Elderly Care Agency which he said, was also recruiting its own staff. Mr Britto said contract workers who make the move will maintain the current conditions of service as GHA staff until their contract expires then become ECA employees.

As regards those that do not move to the agency, he said that “their contracts may or may not be renewed.” The Minister declared that the Government had a duty to look after taxpayer’s pockets since it funded the Elderly Care Agency while the move of 50 geriatric patients from the hospital will result in a surplus of staff at the hospital.

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