Page 117 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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the first place; and, two, I would never have been able to sustain the strength to contribute the way I have been able to, to get out and about and mix it with the people of Brindabella. So I wish the record to show how much I appreciate the support that only she has been able to give me.

I hope and pray that I will be able to live up to the expectations of the people who returned me to office. So thank you very much.

Calvary Hospital—cleaners

MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (5.45): I would like to rise briefly to mention the trials of a few fellow Canberrans, and I refer in particular to the cleaners at Calvary Hospital. They have had to face the phenomenon, which is part of industrial or labour relations these days, of the cleaning contract at the hospital being put out to tender.

As far back as July there had been some discussions with management about this, and the cleaners felt that they had in-principle support for a number of things. One was job security and some assurances about working conditions, along with a general in-principle agreement that the hospital would be interested only in companies that were signatories to the ACT cleaning industry code of best employment practice. That is by way of background to the issues as they developed. But, in the end, on Monday, the workers stopped work when they lost confidence that their employer had maintained its commitment to its earlier position in relation to these in-principle matters.

These are low-paid workers. It is always a shame to see workers put in this position, but especially so just before Christmas. Some of these workers have been at Calvary Hospital for over 20 years, and they were seeking a guarantee that next year they would still have a job. As we know, contract workers can be vulnerable, and none more vulnerable than those on low wages. It is important to know that there are others in the community who support them when they are involved in confrontation; so I was pleased to go out and see them yesterday when they stopped work and were picketing outside the hospital.

I have been contacted today by their union, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, and advised that Calvary management has agreed to honour its earlier commitments and that these workers will still have jobs under the new contract. So I think that is a good outcome for these workers.

It is always disappointing, I have to say, to see a dispute develop into a confrontation that causes so much angst to everybody concerned. On the one hand of course, the workers are extremely concerned, but so too are management. They end up in two very different positions. Services of one sort or another are in some way limited because of the dispute in the workplace. But, on the other side of the coin, my experience tells me, after being on many picket lines in one form or another, that workers are fearful about their futures; in many circumstances they are desperate to assure their futures; sometimes they are angry to the point of fury about being betrayed in some way; but overall they are extremely stressed about what this particular industrial dispute might do to their futures and to their families. So it is not a very good situation for anybody concerned at all. As far as I know, most of these workers have not been involved in any sort of industrial action ever.

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