Author: E tū

Fourth assault on hospital security guard

E tū says a fourth assault on a hospital security guard has raised the alarm over health and safety for security guards at the Waikato and Canterbury DHBs.

Both contract out security services to a private company, Allied Security.

The latest assault – the fourth serious assault this year – involved a security guard attacked in the Emergency Department at Christchurch Hospital on Queen’s Birthday.

The assault occurred just weeks after an earlier very serious attack on a security guard member at Waikato Hospital – where Allied is also the security provider.

Another two guards remain off work after serious assaults at Hillmorton and Christchurch Hospitals.

Christchurch Senior organiser Ian Hodgetts says the string of assaults since Christmas is alarming.

“We are absolutely concerned about such a series of vicious unprovoked attacks on our members, who are simply doing their job,” he says.

Noting the epidemic of violence faced by hospital staff nationwide, he said hospitals needed more security and better security training.

DHBs also needed to improve their staffing and health and safety processes, he said.

E tū Campaign Lead, Mat Danaher says the series of assaults on guards at DHBs has highlighted serious issues with the outsourcing of security services.

“The fact is Allied Security is the security provider at both Waikato and Canterbury DHBs, and I would hope these DHBs, and DHBs nationally, are taking a serious look at who provides their security, and whether the services are fit for purpose,” says Ma

“In the case of Allied, we don’t believe that’s the case and we’ve lost any confidence they’re up to the job.”

Mat says many DHBs employ their security guards in-house – which the union supports.

“Directly employed security seems to be the model to look at for DHBs. Our hospitals are plagued by violence and all staff are affected, not just our security guard members.

“Hospital security needs a whole team approach, and the best way to do that is to make sure guards are part of the same team as other staff.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Mat Danaher E tū Campaign Lead ph. 021 336 519

Ian Hodgetts E tū Senior Organiser ph. 027 446 4972

Strike five Friday for E tū IDEA Services members

Workers supporting New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities at IDEA Services will strike again tomorrow for one hour from 8.30am in support of their employment agreement negotiations.

The nationwide strike will be the fifth in two months and follows a bid by IDEA Services, the operational arm of IHC, to cut working conditions.

E tū advocate, Alastair Duncan says the union represents nearly 3000 workers and the strike reflects their determination to prevent IDEA Services undermining crucial health and safety rights.

He says the union has applied for facilitation to help settle the dispute, “but IDEA is resisting the application,” he says.

He says members have appealed to the IDEA Services board for a meeting “but despite repeated requests over seven months to sit down and talk, board member and the Chief Executive have refused to meet with us.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Alastair Duncan E tū advocate ph. 027 245 6593

Assault exposes serious Health and Safety issues

E tū says its inquiries have revealed glaring deficiencies for security guards, in the health and safety processes of the Waikato District Health Board and its security contractor, Allied Security.

E tū Senior organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says media bans imposed on the guards by Allied have compounded matters, by denying the guards the right to speak publicly about their fears for their safety.

The union is investigating after the assault three weeks ago on a Waikato Hospital security guard member who faces months of recovery from her injuries.

“Our member’s son, Carl Harney has said the media ban, which applies to his injured mother, is a breach of people’s right to freedom of speech, and we agree,” says Iriaka.

“Given how unsafe this hospital is for our security guard members, it’s important these issues are raised and dealt with, so workers need to be able to speak up,” she says.

“The guards have spoken to Allied about their concerns, but nothing has been done.”

Iriaka says her information is based on interviews with the guards as well as meetings with DHB officials.

“There are robust health and safety processes for directly-employed DHB staff, but for contracted security guards, they appear to be ad hoc at best and non-existent at worst,” she says.

“That means a lack of incident reports and training, and neither the guards nor the DHB could tell me who the Health and Safety reps are,” says Iriaka.

“We would also add concerns about the very long hours the guards are working because they are so understaffed,” she says.  

Iriaka says while Allied has a health and safety policy, there seems to be no structure for dealing with health and safety matters.

“I’ve requested the names of any Health and Safety Reps and the minutes of any H&S Committee meetings, and we’ve received nothing. How do we monitor and assess risks on the job if there are no processes in place?”

Iriaka says the DHB admits it is responsible for the guards’ safety, but she believes it’s shrugged off any role in policing its security contractor, Allied.

She says despite requests, Allied Security has failed to update the union, or communicate at all on its inquiry into the assault on the hospital guard, “which just isn’t good enough.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Iriaka Rauhihi E tū Senior organiser ph. 027 544 8697

Muzzled and broken: family speaks out

The children of the security guard assaulted and seriously injured at Waikato Hospital have criticised Allied Security and the Waikato District Health Board for failing to keep her safe.

The guard suffered a broken arm and required surgery for multiple facial fractures after the assault.

“It was a pretty big shock. I didn’t know what to say to be honest,” says her son, Carl Harney.

“There are a lot of questions. She should have been safe, but she wasn’t. There should have been a lot more safety measures.”

Her daughter, Tajuana (pron. Tay-jana) Eltringham says when she saw the state of her mother after the assault, she fled from the ward.

“I burst into tears and walked out, it was a massive shock seeing my mum like that,” she says.

Harder still was telling her two younger siblings, aged 7 and 9, what had happened to their mum.

“I had to explain why she wasn’t coming home and why they couldn’t see her – the bruising and stuff – I couldn’t let two young kids see her that way,” says Tajuana. 

Both Carl and Tajuana say their mother had several close calls before the assault.

“There are a lot of the guards, not just my mum, who say they’re not safe. That guy shouldn’t have been on that ward,” says Carl.

“There are a lot of people you could blame, the person who did it obviously, but then Allied and the DHB after that.”

“Allied are useless,” says Tajuana. “They don’t look after their staff. They never have.”

Carl Harney is also angry about a media muzzle imposed by Allied on its security guards, which means his mother can’t speak for herself.

“I’m pretty pissed off about it,” says Carl. “I think everyone should have that right to talk, she should have that right.”

He says his mother loves her job at Waikato Hospital: “She loves the people she works with and she loves working at the hospital.”

But Carl and Tajuana were very concerned about her extremely long hours.  Both say their mother was constantly “harassed” to work during her time off.

“She got called in on every single day off. Mum is never home. She gets harassed even when she’s told them she’s not available to work. The big bosses – they don’t understand. They just think, ‘Yeah, you can work’.

“The fact the guards are underpaid and under-staffed is the other thing because you have to work those hours because of the low wages.”

Meanwhile, he says his mother is “up and down. She’s pretty tired most of the time. She’s pretty much lost her independence.”

E tū senior organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says Allied Security’s media ban is preventing guards from speaking up about important health and safety issues.

“They should have the right to voice their legitimate concerns about this, but they don’t,” she says. “How can health and safety be improved with a culture of muzzling those on the front line?

“All Allied guards have been told not to speak to media – they know that means they could lose their jobs if they do.”

ENDS

To speak with Carl Harney or Tajuana Eltringham, please contact Karen Gregory-Hunt, ph. 022 269 1170.

Iriaka Rauhihi Senior E tū organiser ph. 027 544 8697

Frustrated Access members vote for action over offer

Access Community Health coordinators, administrators, and call centre workers have voted to take further industrial action this Friday after efforts to negotiate a new pay deal failed.

The PSA and E tū bargaining team attended mediation last Thursday in the hopes of securing a better offer.

However PSA Assistant National Secretary, Melissa Woolley, says a fresh offer to lift pay for many members by only 50 cents an hour left members unimpressed.

“The mediation last week showed us that Access is beginning to listen to our members, but a lack of significant movement on pay has only served to strengthen our members’ resolve. They still feel undervalued by their employer,” says Ms Woolley.

“As a result, members voted overwhelmingly to reject the offer and to take further action instead.”

The industrial action this Friday will include a nationwide walk-out from 1:00pm until close of business, as well as picketing at select offices around the country, including a picket from 1:00-3:00pm outside the Access head office in Petone.

“This strike action is not being taken lightly,” says E tū Home Support coordinator Kirsty McCully.

“It is a last resort for our increasingly frustrated members, and we urge Access to return to the bargaining table with a fair and respectful pay offer.

“Knowing the money is there but that Access simply doesn’t want to give their workers a fair increase is insulting to both the members and Access service users.”

Strike four Friday for E tū IDEA Services members

Workers supporting New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities at IDEA Services will strike tomorrow for one hour from 8.30am in support of their employment agreement negotiations.

The nationwide strike will be the fourth in the past two months and follows a bid by IDEA Services, the operational arm of IHC, to cut working conditions.

E tū advocate, Alastair Duncan says the union represents nearly 3000 workers and the one-hour strike is intended to show the determination of staff to prevent IDEA undermining crucial health and safety rights.

“This will be the fourth strike since April and is a direct result of a management that is not listening,” says Alastair.

Last week the union delivered 700 personalised messages from care staff asking the Board to talk with staff.

“For seven months we have repeatedly asked IDEA Services decision makers to sit down and talk but to date the Board and Chief Executive have refused to meet with us.”

E tū has asked the Employment Relations Authority for urgent facilitation citing protracted negotiations, bad faith and strike action as reasons to bring the parties together.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Alastair Duncan E tū advocate ph. 027 245 6593

E tū welcomes Local Democracy Reporter scheme

E tū, the union for journalists, has welcomed the announcement today of a $1million pilot scheme to improve local news reporting.

The scheme, dubbed the Local Democracy Reporting Service, will see 8 journalists hired to report on publicly funded bodies such as councils, council committees, community boards, District Health Boards, council-owned enterprises, local trusts, and ports.

The scheme is an initiative of the Newspaper Publishers Association, together with RNZ and the government through the RNZ/NZ on Air Innovation Fund.

E tū Senior National Industrial Officer, Paul Tolich says it’s no secret that reporting on local issues has deteriorated sharply in recent years, as the number of journalists in newsrooms has declined.

“Local bodies and other publicly funded entities are responsible for billions of dollars in public funds and they must be accountable to the public. But as newsrooms have shrunk, there has been less scrutiny than ever of the politicians and officials who manage these often very substantial businesses,” says Paul.

“This scheme will help keep them accountable by ensuring greater scrutiny from the Fourth Estate.”

Paul says the union is also encouraged to see support across the media for the initiative.

“The reporters will be based in newspaper newsrooms, but they will be supplying stories to a wide range of other media.  It’s a great example of cooperation over an issue that has raised concerns across the industry.”

Paul also paid tribute to the government which set up the $6 million RNZ/NZ on Air Innovation Fund which is funding the1-year pilot.

“The fund was set up to support media content which is under-served and that’s certainly the case with our publicly elected and funded organisations. So, this is money that’s been wisely spent.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Senior Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

E tū: Waikato Hospital assault tip of iceberg

E tū says the serious assault on a security guard at Waikato Hospital this week is the tip of the iceberg and it’s time to end the use of security contractors who don’t provide adequate training, support and safe staffing.

Today, our injured member is out of the hospital’s High Dependency Unit but has severe injuries and faces a long recovery.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says assault is a daily risk for hospital security guards who are routinely understaffed and frequently poorly trained.    

“Most guards are too afraid to speak publicly for fear of losing their jobs, but we know of at least six cases where security guards have suffered serious assaults in our hospitals,” says Sam.

“In one case a guard was knocked unconscious and wasn’t found for half an hour; another is still recovering months after an assault with a fire extinguisher and another was the target of a knife attack.”  

He says the DHBs are placing their faith in budget security firms, which are failing to keep workers safe.

“They have an obligation to provide a safe working environment. They might be saving money by using contractors, but our injured worker has paid a very high price for that.”

The Convenor of E tū’s Runanga, Sharryn Barton is a former security guard, who once worked at the secure unit at Henry Bennett, Waikato Hospital’s mental health unit.

She says wages and conditions for security guards are very poor, while training is sometimes non-existent, despite the risks.

“Most contractors are desperate to get the work, so they’ll overlook certain things to get the contract, and that puts the workers at risk,” she says.

“Many are Tangatawhenua, Pacific Islanders and other migrants and women – the easiest people to exploit because they’re desperate for the job.

“I think we need an investigation into the security industry including the practices and ethics of these contractors as well as the people who contract them, to make sure workers aren’t bearing unacceptable risks just to keep their jobs.”

Sharryn says the whole issue of procurement standards for services such as hospital security also needs to be investigated.

Sam says the union will also be pushing WorkSafe to designate security as a high-risk occupation – a view shared by the better security firms and the New Zealand Security Association.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Sam Jones E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 544 8563

To contact Sharryn Barton please call Karen Gregory-Hunt ph. 022 269 1170.

Strike three at IDEA – and we’re out

When IDEA management walked out of mediation last week they left us with no option but to go ahead with l Monday’s strike from 3.30 to 4.30.

We had hoped they would have stayed and negotiated but they didn’t.  So now members are on strike again for one hour –  this Monday 20th  3.30 to 4.30

Monday’s strike will be the third over the last two months and there is further strike set for Friday  31st May from 8.30 am to  9.30 am.

We’ve already agreed to attend mediation before the 31st ,  but don’t yet know if IDEA will turn up, or how long they’ll stay.

PS This weekend KFC Carls Jnr and Pizza Hutt workers are on strike – so please get your takeaways somewhere else!

For more information contact 0800 1 UNION 0800186466