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Issue #1459      16 June 2010

Fight against privatisation of health system

On June 9 a public meeting was held in Perth’s southern suburbs to raise with the public the issue of privatisation of essential services at the currently under construction Fiona Stanley Hospital. This new hospital is set to replace several metro hospitals and become the major tertiary hospital in the state.

The state government has decided to privatise thousands of public sector jobs in the public healthcare system. These include orderlies, cleaners, gardeners, sterilisation technicians, occupational therapists, physios and their assistants, ward clerks, patient care assistants enrolled nurses, nursing assistants, store workers; effectively everyone except registered nurses and doctors.

About 120 people attended the meeting, many hospital workers amongst them, to raise concern about the loss of accountability, low morale and the alienation of these close knit workers from their work place and patients when profit becomes the main aim of the private contractors that wish to make money from people’s illness. The meeting was called by the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union and the Health Services Union, the leading unions that represent the above mentioned workers.

Several ALP politicians spoke and gave not very convincing promises of support but as a party that supports capitalism it is easy to imagine compromises and the slow destruction of all things public will be set to continue. This makes these types of meetings vital if the people are to hold politicians to account. A Your Rights At Work style campaign is essential so as to involve the community.

Several’ ‘Save Our Hospitals’’ committees are to be set up and the privatisation issue is set to escalate and be put firmly on the public agenda. Privatisation has always had a bad name in WA and no government has come to power on an overt platform of privatisation. Many of us hospital workers remember the last round of privatisation and the poor standards in the areas that it happened (catering, off ward cleaning, some security).

The meeting ended with a unanimous agreement that privatisation is bad for public hospital workers and its users. It is a further step down the road to a US style system of treating healthcare as a commodity. Whilst potential contractors have not been named we suspect that it will be the likes of such multi nationals as Chubb, Sodexho, Tempo and Spotless.  

Next article – Horsham workers lose patience

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