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CONTRACT hire staff have become the sticking point in an industrial dispute that flared at Linencare Australia this week.

Linencare owners have refused to put the 60 to 70 staff it hires from The Ready Group onto the company’s permanent staff.

The Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union believe the staff should be hired as permanent staff. It called the workers out.

Even former Water Resources Minister Kim Hames has been called on to offer some assistance. Dr Hames is trying to set himself up as a consultant.

The dispute caused Perth’s major teaching hospitals to cancel elective surgery due to a lack of clean linen.

Linencare Australia part-owner Simon Jessamine said the company’s relationship with the LHMU had been fairly cordial, despite a “spat” in 1998 over pay and conditions.

“The issue here was not resolved back then,” Mr Jessamine said.

“If we took on any contractors as permanent staff, they would have to have the same flexibility of hours that contractors would have. They would have to be able to work weekends.

“To take all of the contractors on as permanent employees would be cost prohibitive.”

LHMU assistant secretary Sharon Jackson said some of the contract staff had been with Linencare for four years.

“This was an issue two years ago when we were negotiating our EBAs and it’s an issue now,” she said.

“There is a $1.50 difference between the pay of permanent workers and the pay of the contract workers.”

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