GSD slams 'exploitative' employment practices in GHA and Care Agency
The GSD has described the use of short term fixed contracts and sub-contracted labour from recruitment agencies within the GHA and the Care Agency as “exploitative of working people”.
In a statement the Opposition said it has received “many complaints” over the issue adding that over time it has been carefully attempting to form a clear picture of the situation by asking questions in Parliament.
“As always our task has been complicated by the tendency of the Government to lie, mislead or simply not answer questions when they feel it is in their interests to do so,” the GSD said.
By way of example the GSD pointed to the answers it received on the subject of vacancies within the GHA and the Care Agency.
“Right up to October 2016, the Opposition was provided the number of vacancies and, indeed, in September we were told there were 177.5 vacancies in the public service of which 76.5 were in public authorities including the GHA,” the Opposition said.
“As soon as we questioned these very high levels of vacancies publicly the Government changed tack completely and the next time we asked about vacancies within the GHA and the Care Agency we were told that there were none.”
According to the GSD, “the Government chose to remain unaccountable”.
The Opposition explained that the issue of vacancies and the “abusive use of sub-contracted labour” are linked because in many cases vacant posts are being occupied by workers from recruitment consultants.
“It is the very reason why the Government says there are no vacancies,” the GSD said adding that “here too the Government has been less than forthcoming with their answers”.
“On June 30, 2016 the GSD was told there were 22 vacant posts occupied by sub-contracted labour in one part of the Care Agency.”
“At the last session of Parliament we asked whether those vacancies had been filled permanently and the evasive answer was “subcontracted workers will be recruited as and when required”.”
The GSD further stated: “Nonetheless, even with the handicap of a Government obsessed by media spin and which constantly closes the shutters on the democratic process when questions asked of them appear to be inconvenient, we have built the following picture.”
There are a "staggering" 147 workers subcontracted from recruitment agencies within the Care Agency alone excluding Mount Alvernia, the GSD said.
It added that at the Dr Giraldi Home, 45% of all employees were until a couple of months ago recruited through recruitment agencies and 30% of nurses working within the Care Agency and Mount Alvernia were subcontracted through recruitment agencies.
“The picture within the GHA is much more difficult because of the lack of information or incomplete information provided by the Government in Parliament but we know that this is a major source of concern and that therefore the numbers are also high.”
It did however state that on fixed term contracts, there are 126 workers on fixed term contracts in the GHA and 47 in the Care Agency.
“All fixed term contracts in the Care Agency post date the election of this Government in 2011 and in the GHA only 23 of 126 pre-date December 2011,” the GSD said adding that many of these workers are also on their third, fourth or fifth successive contract.
Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, said: “There is nothing Socialist about these trends. It is one of the factors contributing to low morale at the hospital and elsewhere.”
“It is exploitative of working people. For example, many sub-contracted workers are on minimum wage or close to it, while recruitment agencies get very wealthy indeed by being paid significantly above the wage paid to the worker.”
He added: “We been tackling these issues in Parliament over the last year and we will continue to do so until this injustice is dealt with.”