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‘We don’t seem to matter’


PROTEST Over 100 porters, orderlies and support workers staged a protest at Mayo University Hospital yesterday.

MUH workers protest about loss of staff facilities

Michael Gallagher

Intense frustration among members of staff at Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar boiled over yesterday (Monday), with over 100 porters, orderlies and support workers protesting at the closure of staff facilities in the hospital. The protestors withdrew all but emergency cover and gathered at the entrance to the hospital to publicise what they see as unfair treatment by decision makers.
“We deserve better. Our tea room, staff lockers and rest area was taken from us, despite management knowing how opposed to it we were. They took no heed of our feelings on the matter and just went ahead with it. Putting a lock on the door was resisted by the staff and we held out as long as we could, and now we feel abandoned,” a member of staff told The Mayo News.
“They tell us that there are adequate facilities throughout the hospital to accommodate us, but that’s absolute nonsense. Staff facilities were overcrowded as things stood and now they have locked up our tearoom, which makes things even worse. We have no place to eat a sandwich on our break, no place to sit down, but management don’t care. They just tick boxes and we don’t seem to matter,” the staff member stated.

Management informed staff that the ‘porters’ rest room’ would be closed permanently from 5pm on Thursday and warned staff to remove all personal belongings before the area was locked up. In correspondence seen by The Mayo News, management acknowledged that the closure would ‘discommode’ staff but said alternative arrangements were in place.
“We are satisfied that the alternative arrangements being provided are suitable and in line with what is provided to other staff working on site.”
This caused great anger and frustration among staff and elicited a terse response from SIPTU representatives.
“It is disappointing that hospital management are forging ahead with the closure of this staff facility without providing a suitable alternative,” the SIPTU response read.
“Unfortunately, it is typical of management’s response that they go through the motions of consultation and engagement but refuse to take on board the legitimate position of the staff. We believe that management have underestimated the depth of feeling on this issue which is compounding the strains staff are working under.
“The existing staff facilities are over capacity and this decision will make matters worse. When staff eventually get a break it is not unreasonable to expect to be able to sit down.”

‘Let down’
However, management pressed ahead with the closure and said the area was needed in order to make necessary renovations.
“Clinical/patient needs are driving the need for these works, and as we head into the winter we need to complete these works in a timely fashion. The contractors are now ready to start,” management told the staff on Thursday last.
Staff attempted to stage a sit-in at that stage, but a lock was placed on the door on Friday morning, which led to the show of frustration yesterday (Monday).
“Management have underestimated the depth of feeling on this. We feel completely let down by them and we won’t back down. Expect more protests in the coming days,” the staff member told The Mayo News.