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WHAT: Thousands of essential workers take action in hospitals and aged care facilities.

WHEN: Press conference at 10.30am about state-wide actions starting this morning.

WHO: United Workers Union Public Sector Co-ordinator Paul Blackmore and United Workers Union delegates.

WHERE: Main entrance to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace

Today thousands of essential health workers from more than 45 hospitals, health and aged care facilities across South Australia will take action in their fight against privatisation and attacks on their job security.

Since April essential workers in health and in disability support services have been taking various actions and work bans in response to concerns about job cuts and privatisation.

In a major escalation today, thousands more essential workers including hospital cleaners, patient service assistants, disability support workers, catering workers, sterilisation technicians, aged carers and community care workers will implement indefinite work actions.

These work actions highlight the conditions faced by workers and the impact on the community including chronic understaffing, exposing unpaid overtime and work health and safety issues such as access to PPE.

Work bans include notifications of every unfilled shift, overtime bans on routinely expected additional work, and notifications about work areas that have not been cleaned due to understaffing.

The actions have been carefully designed to ensure patient and resident safety will not be compromised.

United Workers Union (UWU) Public Sector Co-ordinator Paul Blackmore said SA’s essential health and disability support workers deserved to be recognised for the essential services they provide in keeping health, disability and aged care running through the Covid crisis.

“UWU members have spent months meaningfully negotiating and in mediation, offering solutions to resolve their bargain,” Mr Blackmore said.

“In response the Marshall Liberal Government is continuing to attack the job security of South Australia’s health heroes as they continue to perform essential work in the community.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is keeping the threat of job cuts and privatisations hanging over workers’ heads, treating these low-paid health heroes with contempt.

“These workers have done the right thing for South Australians throughout the pandemic, and by bargaining in good faith, however they are frustrated at the Government’s inertia.

“They don’t take this decision lightly and will continue to ensure patient and resident care is a priority. “Workers hope this action will mean the Government will take their concerns seriously. This is about sending a strong signal to the government that enough is enough.”

Kerry, who works in catering and housekeeping in a regional hospital, said workers had been pushed to take action by the continuing threat of job cuts and privatisation, and the impact they would have on patients and workers.

“At the end of the day if it’s privatised it will be about money,” she said. “Health shouldn’t be about money. This is about people, this is about our community.”

Silvia, who works in sterilising, said she was concerned about what privatisation of health services would mean. “We are greatly concerned about what job cuts and privatisation would mean for the essential services we provide to South Australians.

“We take pride in the work that we do and want to see these services continue for the benefit of the community.

“We are asking the community to support us as we take this action. If you see a campaign flyer at one of our hospitals, please take the time to sign our petition.


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