REFUSAL OF SERVICE: Murwillumbah hospital cleaners and ward staff will strike indefinitely from Monday.
REFUSAL OF SERVICE: Murwillumbah hospital cleaners and ward staff will strike indefinitely from Monday. Alina Rylko

Hospital cleaning stalemate

THE NORTHERN NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) has ruled out changes to the cleaning staff roster at Murwillumbah Hospital, despite cleaners taking industrial action from Monday.

As revealed in the Tweed Daily News on Saturday, cleaners affiliated with the Health Services Union will down tools in non-clinical areas, such as student accommodation and offices, until an extra two cleaners are recruited. They say current staffing levels are putting patients at risk of infection.

But NNSWLHD chief executive Chris Crawford said cleaners would be in breach of their “status quo” by taking up work bans.

“There will be no change in the cleaning service arrangements,” Mr Crawford said.

“The district has invoked the status quo under the relevant award, so the HSU and cleaning staff will be in breach of the award if any change to the status quo, such as work bans, were instigated.”

Mr Crawford said there was no cleaning staff position vacant, despite HSU claims.

“It is the view of NNSW LHD that the concerns raised by the HSU can be addressed by reorganising the working arrangements of the cleaning staff,” he said.

“This reorganisation of cleaning staff working arrangements is currently under consideration.

“Once this consideration of the cleaning staff work arrangements is completed, a proposal to reorganise MDH cleaning staff work practices will be provided to the HSU for consultation.”

Unions said this would take 12 months.

HSU spokesman Jonathan Milman said the executive director and manager of cleaning services had tried to recruit a part-time cleaner.

“They committed to filling the cleaning position and to do an independent review of cleaning services but they have done none of those things,” he said, adding workers would not return until an “agreed solution is reached”.

Mr Milman said cleaners at Murwillumbah Hospital have been relieved by the work bans.



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