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Health unions representing 43,000 hospital and long-term care workers today issued 72-hour strike notice — which will become effective mid-day Sunday, April 25 — beginning with an overtime ban, but could expand to include picket lines and other actions.
The announcement came in the wake of health employers’ continued refusal to put layoffs on hold during province-wide talks and move off their massive wage concession demands worth $900 million over three years.
“Public health care is on the line. So are decent family-supporting jobs in communities across B.C.,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt, chief spokesperson for the multi-union bargaining association. “That’s why we’re announcing today that our unions will take job action beginning Sunday.”
He says job action is something that no health care worker takes lightly and that local leaders have been working for weeks to ensure that, in the event of a strike, essential services would be in place.
Allnutt says that over the past three years the Campbell Liberals’ health care agenda has proved a disaster for British Columbia. “Thousands of long-term care beds for seniors have been closed. Hospitals have been shut down. The health care team and the services they provide are being dismantled and sold off one piece at a time.”
He points out that as a result of the employer’s position at the bargaining table all health care workers and the services they deliver to the public are at risk. “Technicians and tradespeople, LPNs and medical records staff — everyone from the lab to the laundry and patient wards to the emergency room — are targeted for privatization.”
The unions say they came to the bargaining table with modest proposals to protect jobs and services, but were met with an employer that is unwilling to work toward solutions and a fair contract.
“We hoped that health employers would come to the table and act as health care stewards, rather than obedient tools of the Campbell Liberals’ privatization agenda,” says Allnutt. “We had hoped they would make a genuine effort to restore trust in the collective bargaining process, but it didn’t happen.
“Health employers have seriously misjudged the situation they have created at the bargaining table.”
HEU represents about 40,000 workers affected by the contract talks. Ten other unions in the bargaining association including the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers represent the remaining 3,000 workers.
Contact: Margi Blamey, HEU communications officer, 604-785-5324 (cell)
More background material is available below:
Click here for Quick Facts
Click here for a chronology of events
Click here Chris Allnutt's speakers notes