‘It’s an insult to staff’

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Staff at the Causeway Hospital have reacted to a proposal to introduce car parking charges at the Causeway Hospital by taking part in a lunch time protest.

Over lunchtime on Friday, staff from all departments of the Coleraine hospital took time out to join UNISON representatives for the protest, which took place between 12noon and 2pm.

UNISON will follow Friday’s protest in Coleraine with a similar event in Antrim Area Hospital this Friday.

Members claim that the Northern Trust have ignored staff views on proposed charging.

UNISON say that a questionnaire with over 600 responses showed that 98% are opposed to any charges with 79% saying they are willing to take industrial action.

During Friday’s protest, UNISON spokesperson Kim Hall told The Times: “These proposed charges will affect staff at all levels.

“The cost could be anything from £8 to £11 per month - a cost that the lowest paid workers simply can’t afford.”

Colm Burns, also from UNISON, pointed out that the unique circumstances of the Causeway Hospital means that there is no alternative parking available nearby for staff and it is not serviced by public transport infrastructure.

A staff member who did not wish to be named described the parking charges proposal as ‘an insult to staff’.

She added: “This is another blow for staff who are already demoralised.
“Staff are already under pressure. They are working through breaks and going the extra mile - yet they are going to be penalised. We just feel that it is an insult to ask staff to pay to come to work.”

DUP councillor Trevor Clarke took time out to support the staff during Friday’s protest, he said: “I fully support this protest.

“To tax staff on parking at work is ludicrous.

“This will have an impact on the lower paid staff - I just don’t understand why they have singled out health service staff - staff who are already under enormous pressure.”