Arranglen, Malaspina owner privatizes support Services

70 HEU members to lose jobs

In the face of high profile, community-wide campaigns to stop the contacting out of 70 housekeeping, dietary and laundry jobs at Arranglen Gardens in Qualicum Beach and Malaspina Lodge in Nanaimo, CPAC (Care) Holdings has signed a deal with Westcana Services Inc.

In meetings with affected workers on Jan. 8, CPAC said laid-off staff would have an opportunity to apply for their old jobs, but warned that “attitude” would be one of the criteria used to determine who would be re-hired. Workers were also told Westcana’s bid was accepted at a set amount of money and the contractor would not be able to afford a union contract.

“It’s like going back 20 years,” said Arranglen care aide Lorna Partridge. “What government has essentially done through Bill 29, is to make sure the contractor can get a profit by taking it out of the worker’s wages and benefits. They say it’s about saving money, but no money will be saved. They’re just giving it to the contractor instead of the workers.”

Westcana is offering a wage and benefit package that severely undercuts the workers’ current collective agreement. New wage rates are set at $12.50 an hour for housekeepers, $11.50 for food service workers, $16 for janitorial and $17 for cooks. The package allows for only five sick days a year with limited benefits, no pension plan and vacation pay set at 8 per cent.

“These skilled and experienced workers have no other choice but to apply for their old jobs just to survive,” said Partridge.

Malaspina care aide Margaret Phinney agrees. “Workers feel totally demeaned at having to compete for their own jobs, especially knowing there’s absolutely no guarantee they’ll get them.”

It is estimated the Westcana contract will take about $100,000 out of the Nanaimo and Qualicum Beach communities, while lowering the living standard of health care workers and undermining the quality of care residents now receive.