Day Three: Will Victoria back call for negotiations by putting privatization on hold?

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As health care workers head into the third day of job action in their efforts to win a fair contract that protects jobs and services, HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt is calling on government and health employers to make a genuine effort to get productive talks underway.

“Gordon Campbell has indicated in the media that he prefers a negotiated settlement, so we are encouraging him to take this opportunity to demonstrate respect for health care workers and for the services they deliver,” says Allnutt.

“Since coming to power three years ago, this government has not been able to negotiate a single agreement in the hospital sector — not with doctors, nurses or paramedical professionals,” he says.

Over the past two days, there’s been a lot of talk out of Victoria about using legislation to put an end to the health care workers’ strike action, but Allnutt says legislation is not the answer.

“We’ve been clear about what it will take to negotiate a new collective agreement for health care workers in this province,” says Allnutt. “Again, today, we are telling government and their health employers to put privatization on hold, stop the layoffs and be prepared to rethink the $900 million worth of concessions they want from workers over the next three years.”

Allnutt says health care workers’ stand for health care and decent jobs is being met with “an incredible show of support and solidarity” in towns and cities across B.C.

In many places, community supporters and trade unionists are walking picket lines with health care workers, dropping off donuts and coffee, and honking their support. And in Nanaimo, a non-union construction crew lost their jobs when they refused to cross health care workers’ picket lines.

Although most job actions proceeded without incident, three HEU members at St. Paul’s sustained cuts, bruises and back injuries when they were struck by a courier breaking through the picket lines at mid-day yesterday. The workers were shaken, and one member is recuperating at home today.

As job action continues, members are reminded to stay in touch with their local executives and check HEU’s website for regular updates.