Counterattack! HEU convenes emergency strategy session of local leaders February 9

Action plan to defend our contracts and protect Medicare the only issue

In the face of the Campbell government plans to break our contracts, HEU local chairpersons and secretary-treasurers will meet in Richmond on February 9 for an emergency conference to defend our public health care system and the contracts of health care workers.

“Health care collective agreements are the last defense against the Liberals’ wholesale attack on public Medicare in B.C.,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “Contract provisions make closures and privatization of health services more difficult. They strengthen and protect health care services for all British Columbians.”

In the December 2000 Guardian, Gordon Campbell said he didn’t believe in ripping up agreements but now that he’s premier he’s not so sure, and his ministers are following suit.

Health services minister Colin Hansen has targeted HEU wages as a major cost control issue. Labour minister Graham Bruce said our successorship rights “need to be addressed” before the government proceeds with contracting out and privatization. The Liberals see employment security and the Healthcare Labour Adjustment Agency as standing in the way of wholesale service cuts and for-profit health care, too.

Since the Campbell Liberals were elected, they’ve slashed health care funding by $1.5 billion over three years, delisted 17 drugs from Pharmacare, made seniors pay more for prescriptions, and removed health services like eye exams from our Medical Services Plan. They’ve consolidated power into six mega health authorities headed by government-appointed health czars to pave the way for more cuts and privatization deals like the private hospital scheme in Abbotsford.

“HEU activists around the province have already taken to the streets to tell the government to keep their hands off health care and off our collective agreements,” says Allnutt. “On February 9, we’ll further develop our action plan to combat Liberal efforts to strip away our rights, reduce our paycheques and dismantle public Medicare.”