Health council cancels staff appreciation gala

Union members say it would be better to spend money on underfunded health care system

The Sunshine Coast Community Health Council canceled a staff appreciation dinner when HEU members from different locals in the area told them the money could be better spent on buying equipment for one of the health care facilities. As the people who provide the hands-on health care on the Sunshine Coast, HEU members see the deficiencies that are the result of funding pressures. The idea that a large amount of money would be spent on one gala evening was met with dismay by the workers. Even though the health council responded to their concerns by stating that the money was to be donated by local businesses, union members still felt that the money would be more useful if it went directly into the health care system.

Plans for the event took shape when acting health council CEO Tess Orlando sent an invitation to HEU members at the Shornecliffe, Kiwanis and St. Mary’s Hospital locals. Because health care workers are under such workload stress, the council wanted to do something to acknowledge all their hard work, she wrote.

Sunshine Coast HEU members felt there were better ways to address the workload problem.

“This concern for workload is not being addressed by the employer at the bargaining table,” said HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “The day after the party, the workload problem is still there if the employer only wants to talk about taking away vacation and sick leave time, rather than listen to the workers’ solutions to the problem.”

At the bargaining table, HEU has presented the employer with ways they can alleviate the workload of its members. Among the demands is for the employer to take measures to reduce the the skyrocketing on-the-job injury rate.