Hospital unions join in security fight

News release

All three major unions at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital have joined forces in an ongoing arbitration to bring security staff under the collective agreement between the facility and the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“We are pleased to have the B.C. Nurses’ Union and the Health Sciences Association join us in a joint grievance committee to fight this issue,” said HEU local chairperson Darrel Pinkney. “This is a rare development, and it demonstrates how serious this issue is for hospital workers.”

Pinkney explained that security staff who work at the hospital are paid a low wage of $8.00 an hour and receive no sick pay, disability coverage or other benefits. They deal with aggressive, violent psychiatric and other patients every day. Their job is to protect the patients and hospital co-workers from harm.

“The level of violence faced by Nanaimo Hospital health care workers is truly shocking,” says HEU staff representative Eileen Henneberry. “We heard evidence of patients brandishing weapons, including knives, at hospital staff. One registered nurse testified at the hearing yesterday that if security staff were not present at the hospital, she would not work there.”

Security staff are paid by a private security guard company under a contract with the hospital that the unions call a sham.

“The security staff work hand-in-hand with us, and are a vital part of the health care team here at the hospital,” said Pinkney. “We, our patients and the public depend on their skill and courage dealing with unsafe working and caring conditions.”