Strike votes scheduled for Sodexho workers

Bargaining bulletin

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HEU members employed by Sodexho and working in health facilities throughout the Lower Mainland and on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island will begin taking strike votes on June 16.

That’s because after months of bargaining followed by several meetings with Vince Ready — a respected and experienced mediator — 1,100 Sodexho health care workers in housekeeping and food services (retail and patient) in acute care, and health support services in long-term care are still without first collective agreements.

HEU and Sodexho remain far apart on wages. After the union’s bargaining committee tabled its monetary proposal, Sodexho came back with a wage increase of two per cent — or about 20 cents an hour — in each year from 2005 to 2009.

“Frankly, a wage offer of 20 cents a year is insulting and disrespectful when you are only earning $10 an hour,” says HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy.

“What’s needed is a significant wage increase to stop the high staff turnover and develop a trained and experienced workforce who are committed to providing services that will improve the quality of care for patients and residents.”

HEU’s monetary proposals Full details of HEU’s proposal will be discussed at strike vote meetings.

Along with wage increases, the union’s proposals include:

? a modest sick leave plan, and

? improvements to vacation time and statutory holidays.

No pension plan is proposed for this first contract.

The union put forward March 31, 2008 as an expiration date.

WorkloadDarcy says not only has Sodexho failed to put more money on the table, but employer representatives are not taking workload issues seriously.

HEU Sodexho members consider workload to be a key issue.

The union’s proposal to address huge workload problems includes:

? more hours added to part-time jobs on a regular basis, and

? the responsibility for setting work priorities placed on supervisors when staff shortages occur.

“It’s ridiculous for Sodexho to expect a worker to double or triple her workload when someone else is away,” says Darcy.

“Supervisors must set the priorities when staff are working short. One worker cannot be expected to do the work of two full-time employees.”

Darcy adds that the union’s Provincial Executive has unanimously endorsed the strike vote and intends to work closely with Sodexho locals in their fight for respect, justice and a fair collective agreement.

“We thought Sodexho had got the message that negotiations need to be taken seriously. Apparently, they haven’t. That’s why we’re going out to the members and taking a strike vote.”

Meetings and strike votes are scheduled from June 16 to 24 (see attached schedule). Votes will be counted and announced by 1:00 pm on June 25.

Look for details regarding the notice of poll on your bulletin boards, talk with your local site representative or executive, or check dates by calling the HEU bargaining hotline or accessing the union’s web site.

If you have any questions, please contact HEU servicing representative Nina Dhillon or HEU bargaining director Susan Fisher. Both can be reached by phone at 604-438-5000 in the Lower Mainland or toll-free at 1-800-663- 5813.