|Issue No 109
|31 August 2001
Maintenance Contract 'Could Put Lives at Risk'
Unions fighting Carr Government plans to contract out maintenance work in hospitals have warned that lives could be put at risk as the campaign in support of secure jobs escalates.
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan has sounded the warning, after it was revealed that the emergency generator at Lithgow Hospital was found to be defective after its maintenance was contracted out.
The test of the back-up power supply last week found that both water and oillevels had been ignored by contractors, leaving the back-up energy supply defective.
"Say that occurred at Prince of Wales Hospital in the middle of an emergency operation - the power goes off and you need to rely on they emergency generator. The Lithgow Hospital situation is repeated - there is no power. What happens then? Can you imagine the public outcry and ensuing litigation?
"What we're saying is that in-house employees have a greater level of care than contactors. It's been proven time and time again, " Riordan says
Health Minister Craig Knowles is under fire over his decision to allow the South-East Area Health Service to bundle power supply and maintenance work into a contract with Origin energy - a consortium of Boral and Asset Services
Under the deal, private contractors will take over the maintenance of the hospitals, with 52 maintenance workers out of a secure job.
The workers, members of the ETU, CFMEU, AMWU, Plumbers and HREA are fighting the plans and held a rally at Randwick in protest this week and have imposed work bans on all hospitals across the state.
They are also planning to directly target Minister Knowles by letterboxing his seat of Macquarie Fields and, possibly, the upcoming Auburn by-election.
"The Minister through his inaction, has left the workers no option but to escalate the industrial campaign," Riordan says.
"We are calling on the Minister to exercise some control over the excesses of the bureaucrats that have control over the Department of Health and in particular the South East Sydney Area health Service," he says.
"The Minister appears to be prepared to mortgage the NSW public health system in order to cover up the ineptitude of his own department and his lack of control over these faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats."
Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU�s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia�s Oldest Rock Fans review the week�s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise aren�t nearly as hostile as Australia.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005