Industrial action could be taken

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NEGOTIATIONS between union representatives and the Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board are heating up, with Together Union secretary Alex Scott warning that staff could be forced into industrial action.

Enterprise bargaining has begun for hospital staff across the state and the union believes the board is hiding future job cuts in the region.

Board chair Tony Mooney said the department would be as open as possible with staff’s futures.

“Permanent employees of the Townsville HHS have their jobs protected under the Queensland Government’s employment security policy, which commits to providing stability to the public sector workforce,” he said.

“At the end of the 2015-16 financial year, the Townsville Hospital and Health Service employed 5191 full-time equivalent employees which is 245 more than the previous financial year.”

Mr Mooney said management worked hard to retain quality staff and replace vacancies fairly.

“Any role that has been vacant for an extended period is reviewed before being readvertised or refilled,” he said.

“This is done to ensure the position best meets the needs of the community and the current demands of a unit or service.

“Enterprise bargaining agreements are co-ordinated by Queensland Health. The Townsville Hospital and Health Service has a proven track record in attracting and retaining world-class staff who deliver excellent tertiary care to our community.”

But Mr Scott said the Together Union had serious concerns going into the new round of enterprise bargaining.

“What we’ve seen in the State Budget is there’s clearly not enough money to continue the same level of services that are provided by the hospital currently,” he said.

“Clearly the last thing we want to have is industrial action occurring.

“Unless the board starts telling its members and the community about what these jobs cuts are, we’ll be forced into a situation of moving to an industrial campaign as we have in the past.”

Mr Scott said the Townsville HHS was not revealing all the information at their disposal.

“We’re about to enter a round of enterprise bargaining arrangements for a majority of staff at the hospital and under previous agreements we’ve had guarantees we’d be told the truth about vacancy rates and service cuts,” he said.