Health workers set strike date

ANXIETY among public health staff over the restructure of area health services could boil over into a strike next month.

The Health Services Union is considering an industrial campaign and a strike on December 7 in response to the threat of privatisation in NSW Health.

HSU officials met more than 40 representatives from Coffs Coast hospitals in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.

HSU spokeswoman Natalie Bradbury said the meeting was held to update health workers on new consultative arrangements negotiated between the Department of Health and the HSU.

She said the meeting also included consultation on issues relating to the shared corporate services review and concerns about privatisation of services.

The HSU represents health workers at public hospitals, excluding nurses.

The union's concerns follow a meeting held in Sydney several weeks ago which saw the NSW Minister for Health, Morris Iemma, meet hundreds of representatives of firms supplying a wide range of services to the health industry, from information technology and building to legal services and medical equipment.

Ms Bradbury said the HSU was waiting for a response from the Minister clarifying his position on the use of private services.

She said the HSU was not concerned about the statewide communications contract between NSW Health and Optus Networks Pty Ltd, announced yesterday, but about services such as catering and cleaning which had been under threat of privatisation in the past.

"Jobs are going as a result of the restructure, so we are concerned about more jobs going," Ms Bradbury said. "There is considerable anxiety, because people still don't know what the new structure will be ? new CEOs have been appointed but not the second and third tier manage- ment."

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