#25Community caregivers rally on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Bargaining bulletin

About 50 community health workers and their supporters gathered on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Monday afternoon to call attention to their fight for one contract and wage and benefit parity with their counterparts in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Chanting “break down the wall,” HEU members from St. James Community Social Services, Coast Foundation and BCGEU members from the Salvation Army marched from Oppenheimer Park to the nearby offices of one of the HEABC bargaining committee members. There they taped a petition to his office door calling for one contract and parity for community health workers.

“Under the compensation offer currently on the table from the employer, community caregivers will wait until at least 2010 to achieve parity,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “We can’t wait that long for fairness and justice for these members.”

The rally came as the unions and health employers spent a third straight day caucusing separately. Employers have asked for additional time to prepare revised contract proposals. As a result, the specific face-to-face bargaining schedule is fluid.

“We made good progress in bargaining last week,” says Allnutt. “HEABC removed key concessions from the table and finally produced a compensation offer in the community. We’ll be doing our best to keep that momentum going both in negotiations and — more importantly — by casting a strong yes vote in strike balloting across B.C.”

Strike votes continue this week and reports indicate strong turnouts across the province. The results will be announced on March 19.