Mater health workers strike over cuts to wages


DOZENS of allied health staff working for Mater hospitals in Brisbane will stop work for four hours today over what they say is an "aggressive attempt" to cut their wages and conditions.

Physiotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, medical laboratory scientists, pharmacy staff and other allied health employees will rally from 12.30pm on the corner of Raymond Terrace and Stanley Street in South Brisbane.

The Mater Hospital car park in South Brisbane Picture: Annette Dew
The Mater Hospital car park in South Brisbane Picture: Annette Dew

Their industrial action amid negotiations for a new Mater Health Practitioners' Agreement comes just two months after the Mater's decision to close its medical imaging service and outsource the work to Queensland X-ray.

Together Union industrial services director Michael Thomas said the Mater had come into negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement with a position that would effectively "cut real wages to all staff".

"They want to implement wages cuts for all new staff in the vicinity of 20 per cent," Mr Thomas said, adding the Mater wanted to limit pay rises for existing workers to less than inflation.

"Our concern is you don't get better health care by cutting wages and conditions. You need to value your staff.

"Good health care comes from having great staff and providing great services to the public. For the Mater to try and cut wages, cut conditions, outsource services to the lowest bidder, all of those things are anathema to providing great healthcare.

"They've already outsourced medical imagery. We have concerns about pathology going into the future."

The Mater Health Practitioners' Agreement covers about 550 workers.

In a statement, the Mater said it was working with employees and their representatives to finalise a new agreement.

"As a private, not-for-profit healthcare provider, during this routine process Mater is seeking to find a balance between the individual interests of its employees and the ongoing sustainability of these services," the Mater said.

Mater Health's acting regional executive director for southeast Queensland, Justin Greenwell, said he wanted to finalise a new agreement which balanced "the best interests of both employees and healthcare services".

"Mater values our employees and their essential role in supporting the organisation to fulfil our mission and, at the same time, needs to ensure the ongoing sustainability of our services," he said.