“Put patients before corporate profits,” say health care workers as they begin hospital occupation

News release

At noon today a group of 15 women health care workers occupied the new ambulatory care building at B.C. Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Vancouver to protest the Campbell Liberals’ extreme health care agenda that puts corporate profits ahead of patient care and turns hospitals into low-wage ghettos.

They’re demanding an immediate moratorium on all contracting out of health care services pending independent investigations into the impacts of privatization and evidence of corruption in the tendering of these contracts.

A contract for privatized housekeeping at the new ambulatory care building is mired in a controversy that began 10 days ago when an official with French multinational Sodexho outlined in a taped conversation that Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) members would be blacklisted and that wage rates for Sodexho staff would be cut to as low as the minimum wage.

In those tapes, the Sodexho official also made statements that indicate that the tendering process has been severely compromised.

“The health of the children and women cared for at this hospital shouldn’t be put at risk by a government policy of privatization that encourages low wages and a transient workforce,” says HEU financial secretary Mary LaPlante.

The 15 HEU members — who hail from across the province — provide the crucial support services that have been targeted by the Campbell Liberals for privatization. They’re mothers, grandmothers, community volunteers and Brownie leaders who provide housekeeping, laundry and dietary services in communities from Victoria to Prince Rupert to Williams Lake to the Okanagan.

The occupation is also being held to call attention to the promises broken by the premier during his first year in office. Before the last election, Gordon Campbell said he’d respect collective agreements and told health care workers they had nothing to fear from privatization. But his government tore up legally signed collective agreements and plans to privatize the work done by 20,000 health care workers.

Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct) or 604-828-6771 (cell)