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Sue Clare has been an APEX delegate for many years. She is a Medical Imaging Technologists, based in Taranaki. You can read Sue’s talk from Delegates’ Training below.
How did my involvement with CNS begin?
I have tried to find my original application from amongst the enormous amount of paperwork that has been accumulated over the years from negotiations and Workshop attendances.
The MRTs in Taranaki have been through some interesting times and I have put together a few of the more interesting stories from those years. Hopefully I am not going to bore you but rather give you some idea as to why I chose to be a delegate with Apex.
At Taranaki a colleague who was not happy with negotiations conducted by NZIMRT suggested we get Deborah from CNS to come and talk to us. We had a meeting off site with Deb and decided to join CNS and I think the journey must have begun in approximately 1991/ 1992. There were three reps initially but it wasn’t long before I found myself being the sole CNS rep.
We wrote to NZIMRT asking for a reduced membership fee as we were not going to stay with the Institute’s negotiator. This caused quite an upset and an NZIMRT member was sent to talk with the staff. We then responded with a letter to Shadows with a signed statement that we were concerned about the ability to retain our present conditions. At this time I was also the Branch rep for Central Districts and resigned as I felt I couldn’t represent the interests of both groups.
Heath problems in CT ventilation prompted a Ventilation Survey in November 1991. In 1992 A report was made about darkroom ventilation, no extractor hoods, drains not cleared and health problems with staff.
June 1995, MRTs wrote to CNS/ Taranaki Healthcare as one staff member deployed, one on sick leave due to toxicity and six others investigated.
Taranaki Healthcare Works Engineer told the Charge Radiographer quote, ”To pull his horns in” in regard to an independent survey. June 7th three MRTs wrote to Max Robbins (CEO) about wanting an independent survey of CT and general xray work areas by Consultant Ventilation Engineers.
The Charge Radiographer’s role was disestablished in November 1994.
December 1994 at 2400 hours on a Friday night, Taranaki radiographers went on a four day strike. Up until this time it had been illegal to strike and I understand we were the first in the country to do so. Radiographers from around the country offered to cover until I explained what was happening in Taranaki. There was no National or newspaper coverage.
As we left the department security guards were on the door to make sure we left the hospital grounds. The hospital had to provide radiographers and the only option they had was to engage Aussie MRTs. These MRTs were provided with security guards, food and accommodation. The guards were also at the motel just in case we turned up there.
We were more concerned about how our staff were managing during this time and got together to support each other. We had no intention, of going anywhere near the place. We did offer to cover in emergencies but that was not taken up.
Prior to leaving the department we had taken out all set exposures from the machines and as the department had just installed computers the Aussies were unable to operate them as they didn’t have the required codes.
As I had worked the shift prior to going on strike I had an anaesthetist try to tell me we were being obstructive. Fortunately Apex had provided me with the necessary responses. The hospital had been given plenty of advance warning.
On my return to work I was on the evening shift and the orthopaedic team were very pleased to see us return. It had been unbelievably the worst trauma weekend Taranaki had ever seen with four major crashes around the district. The relieving MRTs were unsure of how to use the Intensifiers and recording the imaging. Unfortunately the Radiology admin staff were quite antagonistic to the MRTs as the workload required to catch up was huge. It did divide the department for quite some time as we were seen to be the disruptive team.
We waited to see what the outcome of the strike was going to be and finally I made contact to find the Apex negotiator had disappeared from his role so it all took a little while to settle. An amusing anecdote to all of this was that the said gent had stayed at my colleague’s house, been lent a shirt, underwear and toothbrush etc and disappeared with the lot.
27th March 1996 a Health and Safety meeting was held on site with CNS involved along with OSH, Union Reps, Health and Safety Rep, Unit Manager and a doctor from the Ministry of Health. Clerical staff were showing symptoms of headaches, nausea and skin rash, query due to the breakdown of film and MRTs were being investigated for liver function, query due to Glutaraldehyde. This opened a can of worms. Film was breaking down due to gelatine cracks and packets were disintegrating causing a dust problem. Storage was also a problem.
19th January 1999 Notification was issued that Lab and Xray staff were to attend a meeting in the cafeteria. John O’Neil was an Australian guy sent in by the government to tell staff that they were about to be privatised. This was to be a 50/50 Hospital/ private Radiology Joint Venture within the Hospital.
18th January Letter arrived advising Gershu Paul appointed General Manager.
21st January 1999 MRT Redundancy entitlement (including retiring gratuities) sent to MRTs.
4th May 1999 Termination of employment for Radiology staff, the final day being 30th June 1999,
5th May 1999 CNS discussing the implications with Taranaki Healthcare HR as 17 MRT staff across Taranaki Base Hospital, Hawera Hospital and Stratford Health Centre were about to have their contracts terminated. This was indicated as being in accordance with our expired collective agreement. The option of severance was to be considered a last resort.
Gershu Paul sat in his office onsite for six months working through the company set up that was to become Fulford Radiology on July 1st 1999. This was a difficult time for all as staff felt they were constantly under observation.
All staff were required to be interviewed and no one was quite sure whether they would be reemployed. After the interviews, staff were taken aside one by one and told whether they were to be employed or not. This caused even more stress due to staff feeling uncomfortable about asking colleagues if they were going to be employed or otherwise.
During this time CNS were supporting staff and liaising with the hospital and Gershu Paul.
July 1st 1999 staff withdrew from CNS due to dramatic changes in contract and a Manager who was stating we would be looked after. One year down the track and most staff were back on board with CNS as we needed to get our conditions sorted and have the support of a negotiator.
Since that time Apex has ensured that the FRSL SECA contract was in line with and usually a little ahead of what was happening in DHB land. Our call and on call payments were very different from the DHBs. Gershu Paul was trying to run the business like a factory production with the expectation that the finances would always be the same. Supplies would be the same each month which was entirely ludicrous given that a hospital is required to meet the demands placed on it by patients.
Apex provided support when bullying was happening within the department. During this period the tension was extremely high and staff were required to provide evidence of the times and places where it was taking place. The outcome was somewhat awkward but the situation is monitored. Administrative staff members joined APEX as they were not happy with their conditions and currently 2 of these staff are still with us today.
2015 was an unsettling time as staff were aware something was happening but no one was discussing anything. MRTs were trying to negotiate and were offered zero percent and the company wondered why we wouldn’t accept.
19th October 2015. Letter from the FRSL Board Chairman advising TDHB would be taking 100% ownership of FRSL. The purchase to take place with the transfer of shares to TDHB in January2016. The reason behind this was that three female radiologists were forming their own private company.
The transition took a little time as the MECA group needed to agree to Taranaki MRTs being included in the group. Once this was in place Apex negotiated the contract which was sorted in an incredibly short time frame.
To conclude: Whenever I am asked “What does Apex do for us”, my response is always, “Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.” Would you want to negotiate your own contract with the DHB?
I have found since being involved with the MECA and meeting delegates from 19 other DHBs, it is a great time for discussion and understanding how other DHBs function and what the delegates have to contend with.
Apex offers training days for Delegates and their members. These are hugely beneficial as they cover a wide range of topics from bullying to Sleep Deprivation and how to cope with situations that may occur from time to time in their departments. The Apex team are always available to help, advise and support their delegates and members.
This is my last meeting with you all and I wish to thank Deb, David and the team for all their advice and negotiation times I have been through with Apex. Apart from one year I have never once considered being without Apex and I am sure not one of us would conceive of the idea of individual contracts given the minefield one would face.
I wish you all the best for the future. Please continue to support and be guided by the team at Apex.
Mary Bull was an APEX delegates for many years, as well as an APEX Advocate for a period of time. Mary is a retired Medical Imaging Technologist based in Waikato.
You can view Mary’s talk from Delegates’ Training below.
Rachel Prebble first worked as a Clinical Psychologist, before making the shift to workforce and service development for the Wellington District Health Boards. She is currently the Group Manager Organisation Development (People and Culture) at Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast District Health Boards.
Rachel Prebble on behaviour
Rachel Prebble on beliefs and assumptions
Rachel Prebble on values
For over 30 years, until December 2019, Ian Powell was the Executive Director of Salaried Medical Salaried Medical Specialists, the union Representing senior doctors and dentists in New Zealand. He has an MA in History and Political Science from the University of Canterbury and a Diploma of Industrial Relations from Victoria University of Wellington.
The 10 principles for Collective Bargaining Preparation
APEX Advocate Denise Tairua on supporting members
Workplace Bullying & Sexual Harassment
Apex Associate Advocate Lachlan Balfour on workplace bullying
Bill Manning is a commercial and civil litigator. He also specialises in employment and industrial law, and in health law. He has more than 35 years’ experience of trial advocacy, having appeared as counsel before all levels of courts and tribunal.
APEX National Secretary Dr. Deborah Powell on the big picture