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Pay up Compass

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 am, June 21st, 2016 - 39 comments
Categories: class war, democratic participation, health, national, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Compass hospital food Coleman

John Campbell and Checkpoint are doing some sterling work.  On issue after issue they are presenting real news to New Zealand and changing hearts and minds.

One of their latest stories is about a group of dedicated cooks who used to work at Middlemore Hospital and who spent most of their lives providing the sick with meals.

As part of a corporate takeover of public services the provision of hospital meals in some DHBs was privatised a couple of years ago.  Compass, a private UK based corporation, was awarded contracts to provide food to different Health Boards.  The takeover was clearly coordinated by the Government.

Somehow the Government thought that feeding patients was a backroom activity and not a frontline one.  Feeding patients was thought to be secondary to keeping people alive.

With typical neoliberal arrogance the Government thought that privatising the service would save money.  The usual corporate techniques were used.  Old equipment was not replaced, workers were paid less and less and the quality of food was skimped upon.

The changeover was traumatic for those involved.  Jill Ovens describes what happened when the changes occurred in 2014:

It isn’t just the jobs that will be lost when Auckland Hospital workers are contracted out to multi-national company Compass.

Nor is it just food quality and food safety that will be sacrificed when fresh food is replaced by pre-packaged, processed food coming into our hospital kitchens.

A big loser of the past week was democracy.

The Auckland DHB voted last Wednesday to go ahead with the HBL proposal to contract out its food services and outsource most food preparation to external suppliers.

On Friday, the Waitemata and Counties Manukau DHBs’ Chief Financial Officers also decided to go ahead with the proposal to replace food freshly cooked in the hospital kitchens with chilled food brought in from external suppliers. The CFOs had been delegated by the respective DHBs to make their supposedly independent decisions.

Hundreds of submissions were received opposing the proposals, including 164 individual submissions from hospital staff. Major concerns were expressed about loss of kitchen workers’ jobs, food safety, and the new nutritional food standards about to be imposed nationally.

When the decision was announced yesterday, the kitchen workers, ward assistants and café workers were so upset and angry that they walked off the job. Today most called in sick.

These were people dedicated to their jobs and wanting to help.  Their treatment was appalling.

Fast forward to now and putting to one side the joke that hospital food has become there is still an outstanding issue relating to the reorganisation.  Some workers have not been paid what they believe they were entitled to.  From Radio New Zealand:

Ten staff who worked for decades in Middlemore Hospital’s kitchen before the Compass Group took over the operation say they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by the company.

Compass is one of the world’s biggest catering companies, and supplies nearly half of all public hospital meals in New Zealand.

The company has been the focus of protests in recent months about the quality of the food that it has supplied to hospitals in Otago and Southland.

Last July, Compass switched from cooking food in-house to pre-packaged meals and made 14 Middlemore kitchen staff redundant in the process.

Ten of those workers, many of whom had been working there since the 1970s, took voluntary redundancy on the basis of retirement.

Under their union’s collective agreement, because they had worked there for so long, they were owed gratuity pay – a sort of thank-you payment for long service, E Tū said.

The women were owed roughly $30,000 each, the union said.

Industry co-ordinator Jill Ovens said the women got their redundancy pay, but 10 of them were still waiting for retirement gratuities.

In a statement, Compass human resources director Marion Hetches confirmed the two sides were still discussing the payment and acknowledged the process was taking longer than it should.

The company hoped to come to a deal over the “coming weeks”, she said.

The accompanying video is really upsetting. It uses the powerful technique of letting ordinary decent people describe what has happened in their own words.  Clearly these are a group of workers who were dedicated to their job and were upset by what happened and who just want to get what they are entitled to.

Time to pay up Compass.

39 comments on “Pay up Compass ”

  1. Clare 1

    YUM!
    J Coleman’s favourites

    • Tiger Mountain 1.1

      a regurgitated dogs dinner awaiting further interest could likely edge out some of the Compass “slops” menu–cook/chill/ship/store/reheat/bin untouched

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Compass is shortchanging patients and the workers they caused to be sacked, while transferring loot to the parent company offshore to minimise NZ tax payments–what a bunch of corporate bludgers

    “Campbell Live” lives via Checkpoint on TV channel 50 as well as radio and internet cast, the next struggle should be to lift the 8 year wage freeze and sinking lid at RNZ!! the workers would be sure to get some good support–they certainly deserve it

  3. Greg 3

    I bet compass isnt paying kiwisaver.

    Bellamies needs to be closed for 3 months, and MPs can be served Compass food.
    Lets see how that works out.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    Gone. By. Lunchtime.

    Preferably in such a way as to do the maximum amount of reputational and financial damage to all the private sector leeches that can only find employment from right wing political parties.

    That may sound unfair, and if the punishment for buying the National Party isn’t severe enough, they’ll simply do it all over again.

    I note that the National Party has had no traction with its attempts to privatise ACC since 2008: burn their fingers and they think twice.

    • Sacha 4.1

      The Australian insurers did not see part of ACC as a good enough deal. That’s the only reason these clowns did not privatise it again. And now they have financialised its investment fund to underpin their huge foreign debt.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1

        Labour won the 1999 election with a promise (among other things) to return ACC to its rightful owners, and then did exactly that. Are you saying that played no part in the Australian insurance industry’s reluctance?

    • RedLogix 4.2

      Require all companies that win any public sector contracts:

      1. Open their books to full public domain transparency

      2. Retain all profit in New Zealand and pay 50% tax on it

      3. Appoint 30% worker representation to their BOD

      4. Pay all workers a ‘liveable wage’

      5. Subject to strict rules on employment, operational and environmental standards

      The public sector should be setting the standard.

  5. Venezia 5

    Pay up Compass!!

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    With typical neoliberal arrogance the Government thought that privatising the service would save money.

    No they didn’t. They thought that privatising these essential government services would provide their donors with government guaranteed profits.

    The company hoped to come to a deal over the “coming weeks”, she said.

    The deal was reached decades ago – now cough up the full amount.

    • Kiwiri 6.1

      When a neolib govt dependent on political funding from big donors practise ‘trickle down’ economics, they are actually arranging political donations to flow into their own wallets and party coffers?

      Naaah 😉

  7. Pasupial 7

    This is from last week, but still relevant if you aren’t in one of the DHBs that signed up for this slop:

    District health board bosses were grilled in Wellington yesterday on the need to make up their minds whether to join the Compass Group food contract.

    They were told to make a decision by the end of September, a spokesman for NZ Health Partnerships confirmed… ‘‘DHBs need to decide when they want to join or if they want to join. So we’re discussing with them today exactly where we want to go with the food services programme,” the spokesman said.

    The contract was drawn up by the defunct Health Benefits Ltd in the hope of saving up to $190 million over 15 years.

    But only six health boards signed up, far fewer than anticipated. Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said the delay suggested the revised savings figure would not be ‘‘good news”… NZ Health Partnerships is a DHB-owned entity set up to take over from the defunct Health Benefits Ltd. The meeting was a regular gathering of DHB chief executives and chairmen.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/387172/district-health-boards-told-decide-food-contract

    Get hold of your health boards now and remind them that this is a local government election year, and that their actions in cutting deals with Compass before September will be remembered! Unfortunately this is not an option for us in the south, as the SDHB’s elected representatives have been replaced by a commissioner and her minions.

    This shows how uncommitted the new NZHP organization is to public transparency (the image is particularly telling):

    A DHB-entity called NZ Health Partnerships released a 300-page overarching contract, and a 14-page agreement specifically related to Southern District Health Board, under the Official Information Act.

    Commercial sensitivity is cited frequently to keep secret most information around service requirements, pricing, termination, liability, exit clauses, minimum standards, remedies/procedures for failed key performance indicators (KPIs), and menus.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/387294/public-still-dark-compass-deal

  8. save nz 8

    Great post. Great work by John Campbell.

    Increasingly companies do not even care about their reputation and ripping people off.
    It’s considered ‘good’ business in some way to spend more money on Lawyers than actually on contractual payments.

    I hope it goes to court and Compass get asked to pay additional costs for being so in breach.

    It also reflects very poorly on Auckand and Middlemore DHB who awarded Compass the contract and did not make sure that their workers would get their payments.

    How the hell is this helping their patients, by giving them worse food and having the complexity of managing Compass and all the complaints!

  9. Rodel 9

    As a young student I stayed in a hostel, The kitchen manager/cook was contracted a specific amount per individual per meal. What remained was his profit. Needless to say we got miserable fare e.g.on one occasion an evening meal of a saveloy and about 6 thin chips.Many of us would go up the road later to buy takeaways.

    Sounds like DHB -CEOs and managers collaborating with Compass are doing the same kind of deal but this time at the expense of sick people. Ever wonder what the kick backs might be? Who knows what conflicts a good investigative journalist might uncover?

  10. M. Gray 10

    People need to start asking where is my taxes going? why am I paying high taxes but not getting proper quality health care when I need it. The selling of our assets was suppose to go on hospitals schools etc what has happened more lies and spin I suspect.

  11. Dave 11

    Compass says it will come to a deal what deal the bastards owe these ladies money
    Black and white .

  12. AsleepWhileWalking 12

    Just looking at that food is depressing.

    Why even bother serving it like this when you could just puree the lot and tube it in. Ugh.

  13. TC 13

    Campbell should keep digging through all of Ryall’s work in health, an area that impacts all kiwis the nats have again been wilfully destructive and deceptive over.

    They fubar’d alot more than meals and coleman is a foot soldier plodding along a path cut by Ryall, Blinglush etc.

    The health system has been ryally screwed over.

  14. Richardrawshark 14

    At the top, is THAT what they are actually serving,?

    Got better food in UK prisons, seriously.

    • Pasupial 14.1

      Richardrawshark

      That is indeed what Compass expects the SDHB’s patients to swallow. Except for the one in the top right which was made especially on premises for the minister to sample and proclaim to be perfectly fine. The other three are what the food looks like after it is transported to meals on wheels recipients by volunteers. Many of those in Dunedin have now cancelled and moved to a more expensive (but edible) alternative. Sadly for the housebound elderly in Invercargill, it’s pretty much a choice between this slop and nothing.

      • Richardrawshark 14.1.1

        and nothing seems to be said, so many scandalous things going on, and no media in sight.

        Who ever owns compass, how do they sleep at night, like a baby without a developed conscious I suppose.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.1.1

          The relationship between Grey’s Law and Hanlon’s Razor is probably a false dichotomy.

          • Richardrawshark 14.1.1.1.1

            That’s far too deep OAB, seriously dude. Flisni Anglez?

            BTW not probably, definitely, and I think you know that 🙂

            • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Too deep for whom? Seems pretty straightforward.

              • Richardrawshark

                Because i’d never heard the term, and I read a bit of A C Clarke I don’t remember that, and I had to work out what relationship to what I said it had, and why you thought the statements were a false dichotomy which is not a dichotomy and I got a freaking head ache and realized this is way to deep why am I having to learn all this irish shennanighans.

                So sadly I concluded you may be screwing with my head. 🙂

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  To put it another way, they probably sleep well enough in blissful incompetence and self-regard.

  15. Richardrawshark 15

    “But only six health boards signed up, far fewer than anticipated. Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said ”

    Claire’s ex Labour south Dunedin get a commissioner, how did that remain silent on planet NZ?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      It didn’t. It just wasn’t reported at a sufficient level for you to notice.

      • Richardrawshark 15.1.1

        I don’t get at all the apathy I see, this would not have gone on this long in Muldooms days. There would have been mass protests.

        This guy JK and his crew, picked on more and wrecked more IMHO than Rob did and the people freaking love him stay home and huddle in a blanket because powers so expensive, so to speak.

        What the …

        all I need is a protest, i’m bloody there !

        But i’m no leader.

  16. weston 16

    its tempting to start a “most eligible for tar and feathering” list

    • Richardrawshark 16.1

      The consequences to that could be the extermination of every feathered creature we have left.

      Mass extinction event stuff. 🙂

  17. Stuart Munro 17

    Well I don’t imagine any poitical party has the guts, but I don’t support systematic corruption in public service provision. Compass must go. Serco must go. And every dodgy Gnat chum must go, with bonuses clawed back and prosecution for theft as a servant. If we mean to pretend as a country that we follow the rule of law this kind of crap cannot be tolerated for a moment.

  18. Observer Toke 18

    .
    . I know Auckland is not renowned for its cuisine, but surely the shitty meal provided by Compass on behalf of the Health Boards is beyond the pail. See the photos above!

    What I want to know is whether the Health Boards who signed up for the crap are actually competent? Are their other services and standards as appalling ? If so God help us.

    Have studies been undertaken to assess their worth? To Whom are they accountable?

    The Minister for Health should set a good example and resign.

  19. Chrys Berryman 19

    The Selwyn Foundation contracted out their rest home kitchens to Compass in the early 2000’s…….workers hourly rates were slashed and they lost their penal rates.
    Today those same workers earn little more than the minimum wage.The Selwyn Foundation is a charity and pays no tax,it doesn’t pay dividends to shareholders, its directors got a massive 70% increase in their fees this year,the CEO earns $400,000+…..so much for Anglican Christian values……slave labour keeping Kings and Dio afloat so they can educate the elite……Jesus weeps

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