The Causeway Branch of UNISON say that they will be opposing the introduction of car parking charges for Northern Health Trust staff.
The Northern Trust is currently out to consultation on the introduction of staff car parking at Antrim and Causeway Hospitals.
In a statement to The Times this week, Kim Hall, Secretary of UNISON’s Causeway Branch said that 98 percent of staff at Causeway are against car parking charges. She added that 92 percent of the staff questioned would be willing to take part in industrial action.
“These charges are being brought in, not because of need, but because of pressure from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for the Trust to meet its savings targets. It does not take into consideration impact of staff morale.
“NHS Staff are under increasing and sustained pressure as a result of the mismanagement of resources by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, this latest assault on staff is a step too far,” said the Secretary.
She went on: “The Trust has been challenged on the unique circumstances of the Causeway Hospital - the lack of public transport infrastructure, how staff have had no choice but to work at Causeway Hospital when they were moved from other sites and how there has been no pay rise for over four
“UNISON will not sit back and watch staff become the brunt of more mismanagement.
“The Northern Trust look at staff like a cash cow to help them make up for the financial deficit caused by bad financial management.”
In a statement, the Northern Trust stated: “The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety issued guidance in 2011 which stated that “where patients and visitors are required to pay, consideration should be given to charging staff”.
“Visitors have been paying to park at Antrim and Causeway hospitals for over two years.
The proposal is that, if implemented, the policy will be rolled out to other sites. Consultation will also take place with representatives of all groups affected including staff Trades Unions and staff are encouraged to feed their views into the consultation process.
“There is currently more demand for staff car parking than we can accommodate and as a consequence, staff have to park on double yellow lines restricting access for emergency vehicles. The Trust has plans to increase capacity to meet that demand. The rising costs of staff car parking are considerable. The charges proposed are purely to cover these costs.
“The only alternative is to reduce our expenditure on front line services. If we maintain we are putting the patient first, we believe this is not the option we should take. Staff receive benefits of safe, secure, well lit car parking and it is reasonable for them to contribute to the cost of that car park.
“We have worked with DRD on a transport plan to provide public transport alternatives and will shortly be introducing a range of additional support to reduce staff transport costs.”