HEU members receiving broad public support during strike

Bargaining bulletin

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Diversity of voices shows message is getting through, says Allnutt

HEU members on their third day of a province-wide strike are receiving broad public support in their call for fair wages and a halt to privatization, with several citizens quoted in news reports offering encouragement. Supporters include patients who have been inconvenienced by surgery cancellations during the strike.

In Vancouver: Robin Hodgson, 19, who injured his spine in a car crash nine weeks ago, said he supports striking HEU members even though his rehab transfer from Vancouver General Hospital to GF Strong was cancelled;

Michael Enns, who received a bone marrow biopsy at the BC Cancer Agency under essential services, said that striking workers “deserve the same respect” as other health care workers;

Ursula Litzpke, 73, who’s been on a waiting list for two years to have hip replacement surgery, blames the government. “After all, the union has been on strike for only one day, and I’ve been on a waiting list for two years.”

In Victoria: Muda Middlemiss, 74, said she joined the HEU picket line at Mount Tolmie long-term care home because she doesn’t want the people who care for her replaced. “I don’t think the government is doing bugger-all,” she said. “It’s really bad”;

Gorge Road rehab patients Gina Carradine, 42, and Rod Mack, 43, blamed the government. Carradine said she’s frustrated by the BC Liberals’ “lack of priority to the health care system” while Mack, who was nearly killed in a skydiving fall, said “I just hope politicians don’t have to go through what a lot of us here have.”

In Kamloops: Former Carpenters Union chief John Harper, who is awaiting knee replacement surgery, joined HEU members outside Royal Inland Hospital. “I think the government is reprehensible, not HEU,” said Harper, countering a remark made the day before by Kamloops North-Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger.

Today’s edition of the Daily News included an Op-Ed article, “Unions not at fault in health dispute”, which blames the strike on the BC Liberals’ decision to tear up legally binding contracts.

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says the diverse range of voices supporting HEU members suggests that the union’s message of fair wages in a strong public health care system is resonating with the public.

“Most British Columbians understand that health care workers did not take the decision to strike lightly, and that job action was a last resort,” says Allnutt.