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Sinn Féin to champion rights of Health workers

9 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Carál Ní Chuilín has said that Sinn Féin are meeting with the Trade Unions representing workers across the Health Service today at Stormont to build a platform to protect the rights of Health workers. Speaking ahead of the meeting Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"Today's meeting is to pay tribute to the commitment and dedication of all health service staff. We want to commend the nurse who stays half an hour late every night to hand over a report, the secretary who works her breaks to ensure patients get their appointments on time, because when you work in the health service providing care to the most vulnerable in our society you can't just get up and go home; babies are not delivered on a nine to five basis nor emergencies confined to those times.

"This is the greatest intangible asset we have in the health service and too often we have all taken this for granted. But it is about more than commending all the health workers, it is about Sinn Féin demonstrating our support for these workers, and that we will use our influence and leverage to ensure that their contribution is recognised in a meaningful way.

"What our porters, nurses, auxiliaries, social workers etc deserve, as of right, is recognition of their contribution to our health service. To choose to work in the health Service is vocational more than occupational, providing services and care to the most vulnerable in our society.

"We see in the south what the failure to recognise this contribution can lead to, nurses working to rule and balloting for strike action and already unions here are balloting for strike action over pay. The Review of Public Administration, which we were promised would tackle bureaucracy and health service fat cats, will disproportionately lead to redundancies in the frontline administrative support staff, secretaries and admin staff. These generally low paid female workers will not receive any big golden handshakes or public appointments like their bosses and this is a disgrace.

"Sinn Féin will be the champion for the working woman and man in this Assembly. Our door will always be open to our health Service employees. Today is the first outworking of that policy; we have gathered representatives from all the main health service unions to cement our relationships.

"We want to develop, in partnership with the unions, a charter for health service workers, a charter that embeds a commitment to formally recognise the contribution of health service staff to shaping our society and future." ENDS

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