Health workers march to protest proposed job cuts

Public Service Association delegate Helena Boyer, of Gore, protests outside the HealthCare NZ building in Gore yesterday, with 20 other people who are against the proposed 200 job cuts throughout New Zealand. Photo: Kayla Hodge
Public Service Association delegate Helena Boyer, of Gore, protests outside the HealthCare NZ building in Gore yesterday, with 20 other people who are against the proposed 200 job cuts throughout New Zealand. Photo: Kayla Hodge
Gore health workers and supporters have expressed their disapproval of the proposed HealthCare NZ changes to disestablish 200 jobs across the country.

About 20 people with placards and flags in hand took part yesterday in a protest march from Crombie St to Broughton St where they rallied outside the HealthCare NZ Gore office.

Public Service Association organiser Keith McFadyen, of Dunedin, said the march was a sign of unity against the cuts which would disestablish five jobs in Gore and relocate them to a call-centre in Auckland.

‘‘Five jobs is five jobs. It affects a small community and more jobs are being contracted out and it seems unfair,’’ Mr McFadyen said.

‘‘We’ve already experienced problems with people from other areas not knowing ... Especially like the other day [during the floods] try to get medications.’’

‘‘We’re talking about those most vulnerable elderly, people with disabilities, mental health issues ... it’s incredibly hard work and it’s very satisfying.''

Workers affected by the proposed cuts were home support co-ordinators, admin staff and service managers.

Caregivers did not have supervision, and co-ordinators provided that comfort, he said.

They dealt with more than 100 clients in the Eastern and Northern Southland and West Otago areas.

Public Service Association delegate Kayleen Findlay, of Gore was frustrated with the proposed changes.

‘‘This doesn’t just affect them in the office, it affects all of us,’’ Ms Findlay said.

‘‘Talking to someone on the phone is completely different from face-to-face.’’

‘‘That’s what the clients like — being able to go into our office and actually talk to somebody.’’

Not having the ‘‘go-to person’’ was scary.

The protest was originally scheduled for two weeks ago, but was postponed due to the flooding.

-By Kayla Hodge

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