Healthcare NZ plan opposed

Healthcare NZ chief executive Vanessa Dudley was called "gutless" by protesters during a demonstration in Oamaru yesterday against a proposal to axe jobs in North Otago.

About 60 Healthcare NZ staff, members of the public and Public Service Association organiser Jen Wilson gathered at Healthcare’s office in Coquet St to voice their displeasure at the proposal, that if confirmed will result in several Oamaru co-ordinators losing their jobs in favour of staffing an Auckland-based call centre.

Many carried placards and chanted slogans while Ms Dudley met affected staff inside the building.

A Healthcare NZ spokesman said via email Ms Dudley was unavailable for comment yesterday and would not be making any further comment on the controversial proposal.

Several protesters criticised her failure to address the protest and described her as "gutless". Others called for her resignation.

Protesters outside Healthcare NZ’s Oamaru office in Coquet St yesterday, demonstrate against a...
Protesters outside Healthcare NZ’s Oamaru office in Coquet St yesterday, demonstrate against a proposal that may result in jobs lost in Oamaru. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Mrs Wilson said the loss of any jobs in Oamaru would hit the private healthcare provider’s operations hard.

"The co-ordinators are pivotal in the provision of service, so they liaise between and are the conduit of information between clients and the support workers. Their role is actually much wider than rostering and scheduling. It seems that perhaps Healthcare NZ doesn’t quite understand the breadth of their role, so we’re really saying this is a vital role and it should stay local.

"There is a huge pool of experience here that already exists and jobs are precious. These workers are valuable and it’s not OK to say yes we value our staff, but we’re going to disestablish your job, when there is an alternative, which, of course, there is."

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher also attended, and backed the stance of protesters.

"I absolutely support what you are here for. We absolutely need care for elderly people in their homes ... thank you for what you do."

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