Laundry staff slam plan to privatise service and suggest new facility be built

Staff at Our Lady of Lourdes laundry, were staff from Dundalk’s Louth County are sent to work, have slammed a HSE plan to outsource their laundry service.

Staff at Our Lady of Lourdes laundry, were staff from Dundalk’s Louth County are sent to work, have slammed a HSE plan to outsource their laundry service.

In a heartfelt letter to politicians, staff have voiced their strong concern at the future of the service if and when it’s transferred to a private contractor, and that the laundry staff will be deployed to roles completely unfamiliar to them.

Last year Dundalk staff of Louth County Hospital began a daily trek to Our Lady of Lourdes after their boiler broke down, and they also face the prospect of being redeployed to other roles in Louth County Hospital.

The letter states: “Our Manager was informed that the service was to be contracted out via e-mail on Thursday 27th February 2014, much to the disappointment of the entire staff of the laundry department.”

The letter goes on to outline the hardship of the work at the laundry but their heartfelt desire to continue the service, as they feel they are the best people for the job, both in terms of value for money and the quality of the service they perform.

“As you know already our work is extremely manually intensive labour, and no contract firm is equipped to carry out the manual work that we undertake daily.

“As you are lso aware some members of staff have given a lifetime of service. At least four members from Drogheda have given thirty years service each and more to this essential service. We also have some excellent contract staff who work alongside us as the HSE staff embargo only allowed this option, to carry on the services here in Drogheda. “

The letter also details how the laundry has recived little investment over the past two decades.

“Our present building has not been renovated or updated in the last two decades. Machine service contracts are non-existent. There was a service contract in existence but it ceased some years ago. The laundry equipment is in use for thirteen hours per day without any stoppage as staff are rotating on equipment to provide the services for both laundries, in our laundry department.”

The letter also outlines the anxiety among staff about the prospect of being redeployed to work they have no knowledge of.

“We still find ourselves under the daily threat of having to go where we are designated to work.”

It also suggests that similiar privatisation moves in the UK have been problematic and that incorporating a new laundry into the hospital, which is getting a €30 million extension at the moment.

“We are sure the €30 million about to be spent is an essential development, would you notice another €2 million or the €6 million for the brand new state of the art laundry that could be produced.

“It is not a mathematical genius we need to calculate that spending for the long term is better than throwing away good money after bad to a contract company, when we could have a state of the art premises and equipment that does not break down every week, the cost saving would pay for itself within a few years, definitely before all the staff retired, we could also keep our own local contract staff and provide local jobs for young willing workers.