(DURHAM, ON Sept. 23, 2010) --
Staff at the Durham site of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre recently proved
they could easily survive in the desert as hospital administrators removed all
staff food and beverages from the premises without advance notice.
After a few days of giving a new
meaning to the term "streamlining" staff, the hospital came to its senses and
now provides coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for beleaguered workers.
Now hospital workers are appealing
the community for help to ensure SBGHC fulfils its mandate to the community as
both a health care provider and a responsible employer.
The Durham and Chesley sites at
SBGHC are the first two of four hospital sites to undergo a transition from full
hospital kitchen to a re-thermed food system. Staff previously employed in the
kitchen and as housekeepers are now known as "multi-service" employees who
perform both jobs.
"This restructuring was never a
good idea, but the employer has botched the situation so completely it would be
almost comical, if the lives of so many people were not being held at ransom,"
said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Members of the community need to
inform themselves what is happening at the four sites, and take action."
Hospital employees, including many
who work a 12-hour shift, were not provided with food or beverages; while
adequate storage, cooling and heating facilities are not available on-site for
food brought from home.
Things went from bad to worse last
week as a senior VP in the hospital personally walked away with the cutlery from
the former cafeteria, forcing one physician to eat with makeshift cutlery made
from tongue depressors.
This week, staff have access to
complimentary beverages following complaints made at staff meetings.
The restructuring plan is also
resulting in costly renovations to the Chesley and Walkerton sites. Walkerton
and Kincardine hospitals are to make the transition to re-thermed food by
year-end. "The union still does not know how much this misconceived plan is
going to cost the taxpayers, or how long the rollout will take," said Thomas
The union is calling for more
training of new multi-service staff.
Hospital staff are pleading for
members of the community to make the management of the hospital's four sites an
issue in the municipal election in West Grey, Brockton, Kincardine, Arran-Elderslie,
and other communities in South Bruce County. "We are asking people to make
themselves aware and speak out as these issues affect every member of the
community," said Thomas.