NON-nursing support staff at Mayo General Hospital are to ballot on taking industrial action over working conditions and the standard of hygiene at the hospital.
Last Friday, the decision was made following a meeting of the staff to ballot for industrial action which will take place next month with a result expected on Monday October 12. Seamus Burke, a SIPTU health official told The Mayo News that up to 20 cleaning staff have left their jobs through illness and retirement in the last year and have not been replaced because of a recruitment embargo. He explained that this has led to a shortage of cleaning staff and claimed that staff are being over-worked and the hospital were relying on the workers good-will to clean the hospital.
“The numbers [of cleaning staff] have depleted and are not being replaced and staff have to do the same work which cannot be done. This is an essential service and the cleaning is not being done adequately. In emergency situations they are bringing in contract emergency cleaning staff but much has been left to the same staff and their good will to do additional work.
“This issue has been raised for the last two months but we are getting nowhere with management. They have been told there are budget cuts and letting staff go is seen as making savings to the budget. To cap it off there is no coherent annual leave formula with 400 hours yet to be taken. Cleaning staff have been told not to apply for singular annual leave because it will not be given,” he said.
Up to 100 members of the non-nursing staff are to take part in the ballot which will take place over seven days next month. Seamus said that staff were being overworked and were very angry that they were not being supported by management.
“I got an e-mail from the management saying their door was always open but it’s no point being open if nothing can be done. They are not engaging with us and while they do have a hospital to run they are relying on the goodwill of the staff to do additional work. Having met with the staff they are very angry at being overworked and being begged to come in to work on their days off.”
The Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said he was in support of the staff saying that the lack of cleaning staff has been illustrated by poor audit results on hygiene in the hospital. He said that MGH was being continually downgraded and predicted that in ten years time it would become a ‘glorified nursing home’.
“The standards have dropped rapidly in MGH with hygiene standards dropping. It is obvious that you can only do eight hours work in eight hours and with cleaning staff not being replaced. They bring in contract cleaners to do a few hours here and there and I have come to the conclusion that the hospital is being run into the ground. In ten years time if this keeps going on MGH will turn into a glorified nursing home.”
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