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Angry essential health workers will take part in industrial action to preserve free hospital parking and free public transport.

Yesterday, the union met with Health Minister Chris Picton to raise concerns about removing the provisions, but the Government remained steadfast in reinstating the impost on hospital workers.

“Essential health workers at Lyell McEwin Hospital are holding a one hour stop work meeting at 1:30pm today to underline how important access to free parking and public transport is to keep hospitals and health services running smoothly,” Paul Blackmore, Public Sector Co-ordinator, said.

“This $1200-a-year car parking charge is a significant financial burden for a hospital cleaner who earns $27 an hour – and their stories are heart-breaking.

“United Workers Union cleaners, orderlies, security guards, catering attendants and sterilising technicians – the people who keep hospitals running – are working double shifts, overtime and constantly understaffed.

“In April 2020 when free parking was introduced there were about 430 cases in South Australia.

“Now there are about 16,000 active cases, we are racking up about 3000 cases a day and the third wave is predicted to peak in July with about 5,000 Covid cases a day.”

Kerry says: “I am dreading having to walk to work at 6am in winter. I feel unsafe, and it’s already making me anxious. If SA Health is desperate for good staff, why would the Government make the job even more difficult for us?”

Karen says: “Something would have to be surrendered. I look after my grandchildren during school holidays when I can. Once during their holidays I take them for a treat, it may be the movies. This one treat is the thing that will have to go. Having to pay to go to work would mean that my grandkids are paying the price and that is appalling.”

“When in Opposition the current Government campaigned for free access to include as many health workers as possible,” Mr Blackmore said.

“The then Opposition Health spokesperson, now the Health Minister, wrote on his Facebook page: ‘ALL of our healthcare heroes deserve free parking when they go to work.’

“Free parking and public transport was granted to health workers in April 2020 as a recognition of unprecedented pressure facing the health system.

“The headline news here is that nothing has changed, in fact things are much, much worse.

“Given health workers were offered free parking and free public transport to keep the health system running smoothly in a time of crisis, that reason is even more valid today as we approach 5000 cases daily.

“Now that inflation is galloping at 5.1 per cent and workers are going backwards on a pay deal well below inflation, it makes even more sense that this access is kept in place.”



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