HEU members from resource communities support action to defend critical health care services, jobs vote

News release

With a special province-wide strike vote now two-thirds complete, Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) members are voting overwhelmingly in support of a comprehensive action plan to protect jobs and health care services for British Columbians from attacks by the Campbell government.

HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt says about 14,000 union members at 187 of the union’s 252 locals have cast ballots, with 90 per cent voting in favour of the action plan so far.

Allnutt says that support for doing whatever it takes — including job action — to fight Gordon Campbell’s extreme agenda is especially strong among union members in rural communities already hard hit by a downturn in resource industries.

“These members — who are overwhelmingly women — have an added sense of urgency,” says Allnutt. “Their partners may have lost work or income because of the softwood lumber dispute which has hurt thousands of families in rural communities across the province.

“And Campbell’s cutbacks will devastate health care and other important public services in their communities when those services are needed most,” he said. “They’re taking a stand by voting in favour of the action plan because it’s now more important than ever to protect decent jobs, family supporting paycheques, and vital services,” he says.

“They know that the widespread privatization of health care being pushed by Victoria and large multinational corporations will have a devastating impact by lowering wages when their families can least afford it.

“They’re prepared to put it on the line because the health and well-being of their families and their communities depends on taking action to stop the Campbell Liberals from totally destroying rural towns in B.C.”

Allnutt says vote results in communities with a strong presence of International Woodworkers of America members and other forest workers shows the deep commitment of HEU members to protect their communities:

  • Port Alberni, 95 per cent support, with a 50 per cent member turnout;
  • Prince Rupert, 92 per cent support, 62 per cent turnout;
  • Nelson, 95 per cent support, 48 per cent turnout;
  • Campbell River, 96 per cent support, 57 per cent turnout;
  • Squamish, 88 per cent support, 60 per cent turnout;
  • 100 Mile House, 91 per cent support, 85 per cent turnout;
  • Merrit, 93 per cent support, 47 per cent turnout; and
  • Hazelton, 100 per cent support, 47 per cent turnout.
The special strike vote began in late March and is expected to be complete before the end of June.

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