Government orders Victoria social service employer to roll back caregivers' wages

News release

Cut pay by 24 per cent, or lose contract, Campbell Liberals threaten

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) is appalled by revelations that the Campbell government has ordered a major Victoria community social services employer to roll back staff wages, or have its contract to provide services for special needs clients terminated.

Last week the Victoria Association for Community Living (VACL) told their employees, who are HEU members, that the government had issued them with an ultimatum: reduce the salaries of your unionized employees by 24 per cent or have your contract ripped up.

“The Liberals couldn’t have made it any clearer,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “These types of threats and bullying show just how extreme the Campbell government’s agenda is for community social services and health care.” The 123 caregivers at VACL have been without a contract since April 2001 and are, in fact, in the middle of negotiations.

Allnutt says union members understand the dilemma that deep government cutbacks have created for the employer, but says they will not negotiate rollbacks for its members.

The workers — who provide services for special needs clients in group homes — feel that there are other efficiencies that can be made to meet budget requirements set by the government. But the employer says the government has been adamant and very specific about where the cuts have to be made.

VACL is a long-standing advocate for the disabled, and has a long history with HEU. The certification goes back to the 1970s.

“This community social services agency has the largest client base in the Victoria area, and has been able to provide consistent service to their clients. If what the government has in mind is contracting out these jobs to the lowest bidder, there is going to be instability and suffering for an awful lot of people and their families,” Allnutt says.

— 30 — Contact: Stephen Howard, communications director, 604-456-7037 (direct) or 604-240-8524 (cell)