PNG Health Support Workers Walk Off The Job; Hospital Services To Be Curtailed

Inpatient care services to be greatly affected by strike

By Grace Auka Salmang

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 9, 2016) – A majority of health support workers at the Port Moresby General Hospital have raised their hands to go on strike today leaving a skeletal staff and senior managers to man the office.

About 1000 plus members are taking the lead and will walk off their jobs.

This includes cooks, cleaners and morgue staff that will see inpatient care services greatly affected.

Also to be understaffed or closed is the hospital’s oxygen section that supplies oxygen to the labor ward, the main operating theatre, children’s ward and tuberculosis patients.

Tare Towan, originally from Chimbu, who does laundry for the hospitals’ used and dirty garments, beddings and other clothes spoke on behalf of his other colleagues saying many of them have been faithfully working for more than 10 to 20 years to earn a living and yet they are still paid as casual workers.

[PIR editor's note: On Dec. 9, 2016 PNG Post-Courier reported that 'Goroka General Hospital in Eastern Highlands Province will be without some vital services as the hospital health support workers go on strike for more pay and better working conditions. ... Services which would be affected are the hospital accounts, human resources, hygiene, laundry, catering, transport, information and communications. The hospital morgue would close at 4.06pm today.']

"We risk our lives working but we are not given any risk allowance, we do all the dirty work and our efforts have not been recognised and after all, we must meet our family’s needs too.

"We have not seen any changes to our working conditions and this is a denial to our rights," he said.

Richard Batari who is an Oxygen operator told Post-Courier that currently there are eight people working in the oxygen section on shifts.

"If we all go on strike tomorrow, some patients who heavily rely on our service may lose their life because all the oxygen banks will be shut down, therefore the DPM secretary must seriously address this issue or else innocent lives will be lost," he said.

When asked about what would happen to the patients if these health support workers walk off their respective jobs, PNG Health Support Workers Association general secretary John Suao told the workers that Department of personnel Management (DPM) Secretary Mr John Kali has to be blamed for this.

Mr Suao has assured the public of a peaceful strike.

PNG Post-Courier
Copyright © 2016 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved

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