[Sinn Fein]

5th April 2002

MacManus backs hospital porters

Sinn Fein election candidate for Sligo/Leitrim Councillor Seán MacManus has come out in support of the Sligo General Hospital porters who voted to work- to-rule on April 3.

Speaking following the SIPTU porters' announcement of their action in protest of the impending layoffs of approximately 10 workers, Cllr. MacManus said:

``The union did not receive prior notice of the layoff. This is a cavalier and totally unacceptable way to treat workers, and I sympathise with the porters in the action they have consequently decided to take. I support their call for reinstatement.

``It is my information that the North Western Health Board was overbudget by 7-9 million euro last year, and is 3 million euro overspent already this year. The North Western Health Board has blamed this budget deficit for the layoffs. In such situations, the service workers always suffer first. It is my understanding that the kitchen staff and cleaners are also vulnerable and are on alert, but that no layoffs have yet been confirmed for workers in these categories.

``This situation is familiar in its scapegoating and undervaluing of the services these workers provide the hospital staff and patients. Service workers are of equal importance in a hospital setting to more highly paid and protected administrative staff. They are not expendable.

``The Health Board is making these workers suffer for a combination of mismanagement and underfunding by the Department of Health. This must stop.

``How can the excuse of overexpenditure be used by the Health Board in relation to the loss of these jobs, while at the same time it is evident that there has been no significant improvement in the delivery of health care services to those most in need over the past number of years - as shown by the persistence of waiting lists.''

``This whole sorry situation reflects the total mismanagement of the hospital services by the present government. So much for Fianna Fail's much-vaunted investment in the health service.

``I call on the North Western Health Board to reinstate those threatened with layoffs and to clearly indicate that no further job losses will occur.'' ENDS

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