Largest ever hospital lockout set to continue
From Northland to Southland, the lockout of up to 800 workers by Spotless Services Ltd is set to continue into a second day as hundreds of union members picket and rally outside public hospitals.
Spotless locked the workers out from midnight Wednesday and has issued a further 14 days of lockout notices.
Service and Food Workers Union bargaining co-ordinator Alastair Duncan says the lockout has made workers determined to win.
"The bully boy tactics of Spotless have rebounded on them. By locking out their own staff, the company has made the workers even more determined to get a fair deal."
Alastair Duncan say the action is the largest ever lockout of public hospital workers and raises critical concerns about why Spotless is allowed to operate in the public sector.
"Companies like Spotless are in our hospitals for one reason. To make money out of our public hospitals. The way they make their money is to pay low wages.
"As the largest employer in the sector, Spotless stands to get the lion's share of $16 million additional government funding secured by the very workers the company has locked out. Spotless is also the employer which consistently pays among the lowest wages in the sector.
Alastair Duncan says Spotless has done all it can to frustrate a settlement.
"Even the company's latest claim that they are ready to pay workers the national rate is full of fishhooks with new staff offered no protection and current conditions still under attack."
Alastair Duncan says the union wrote to Spotless yesterday with a proposal to settle the dispute but 24 hours later has yet to agree to the proposal.
"Every other responsible contractor along with those District Health Boards who employ their own staff is ready to sign up to a national process. But not Spotless."
The lockout is taking place at Invercargill, Wanganui, Hastings, Palmerston North, Gisborne, Tauranga, Waitemata, Counties Manukau and Northland hospitals.