Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has welcomed news that the strike action by cleaning and support staff at UHW has ended following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission last week. McGuinness is a member of the Regional Health Forum and a committee member of the Dungarvan branch of Unite trade union.
“Cleaning and other support staff had been on strike at UHW since 25 February over unilateral changes to their work conditions by their employer Momentum. Momentum took over the cleaning contract at UHW last year.
“I had visited the pickets over recent days to show my support to my fellow Unite members, and the Sinn Féin group of Councillors prepared an emergency motion in support of the workers. We echoed their calls for Momentum to fully and fairly engage with the workers and their trade union on all work practices and changes, on their legitimate health and safety concerns, on the lack of training in some areas, and on the exploitation of new entrants to undermine current pay and conditions.
“This dispute could have been over before it began had Momentum simply engaged with its staff and with their union. The HSE also has a duty to ensure contractors such as Momentum comply with legal and contractual obligations. Early intervention from HSE management could have done much to avert this strike, and I will be raising this issue with senior managers at the next Regional Health Forum meeting.
“Our hospital depends on contract cleaning staff, porters and laundry staff to remain operational and safe for patients. We cannot allow profit-driven contractors to wreak havoc in our health system at any time, much less at times of uncertainty and risk.”