Saturday, February 12, 2005

Nurses press on with their own industrial action

A ‘no uniforms’ industrial action by nurses goes ahead today - the inaugural day of St Bernard’s Hospital, Europort - after nursing staff met last night.

Called to a last minute meeting by Michael Netto, who is at loggerheads with his own union, 130 nurses elected a temporary committee and decided to move ahead with industrial action although they said that badges and aprons will be worn so that patients can be confident in identifying them.

The meeting was held in the nurses’ dining room last night. A flyer stated that the district officer was being invited to the meeting to explain why he had ignored two petitions signed by nurses calling for a general meeting on pending pay claims. It said that a ‘conspiracy against the nursing staff” would be exposed saying this would curtail the ability of staff to take any action in future and called on all nurses to attend. There are some 300 nurses of various grades.

Earlier Mr Netto had claimed that the intransigence affecting the row on nursing was from No 6. He accused the Government of seeking to play to the gallery when the nurses were neither putting the patients at risk at any time nor asking for much.

“What we are seeking is parity and that our rights are the same as any other workers in the public sector even though we are limited in the action we can take. Manning levels have never been below the necessary levels and we ensure this is so when we have any meetings,” said Mr Netto.

Mr Netto rejected the challenge he was expecting to the action and accused the TGWU itself of making a statement that would expose members to unprotected action from management. He said that the Government cannot argue that nurses not wearing uniforms is an infection issue when they have accepted nurses doing labourers jobs of packing materials for the transfer. It was, he said, equally true that nurses had been in buses with patients and that was not considered a risk. The risk issue was just being used as a stick against nurses, he said, adding that they had only had their ‘walk out’ meeting because the GHA had refused access to the press in the hospital itself.

“We are very limited in the action we can take since we are always responsible towards patients. Management want to leave us with no space to make our claim and Luis Montiel, Branch Officer, is leaving a flank open for management to hit staff without protection,” said Mr Netto.

He asked why the ‘Rocca’ report has not been made public and why it has taken so long to implement recommendations of the ‘Olivares’ report. Mr Netto reiterated the challenge to the union leadership to attend a meeting and said that it was their duty to relate directly to the nursing section.

My efforts are always 100 per cent for the working class and I can guarantee to Mr Montiel that I am not seeking his job or any permanent post in the union if that is what is thought.

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