Creative protest greets would-be privateers at Children’s and Women’s hospital Monday morning

Would be privateers looking to profit from the Campbell government’s efforts to privatize health care services faced a bracing warning Monday morning from a demonstration of HEU members at Children’s and Women’s Hospital: health care is not for sale, and HEU members will fight their efforts to cash in.

Defying employer threats of discipline for participating in the action, about 20 union members greeted the corporate privateers as they arrived at the facility to participate in a site inspection tour, the first step in the hospital’s plans to privatize housekeeping services in the new ambulatory care centre.

A number of HEU members were symbolically attired as corporate fat cats to mock the privateers’ bid to cash in on privatizing services that won’t save the health care system a penny.

And similar creative union efforts to be included in the site inspection tour were rebuffed by the employer. Close to 90 housekeepers had come together in an effort to show how cleaning services in the new building could be provided just as effectively through in-house means. But the employer refused to let them participate in what is supposed to be an open bidding process.

“We’re committed to continuing the fight against efforts to privatize the health care system, says Blair Thomas, chair of the Children’s and Women’s local.

Meanwhile, Kelowna General Hospital members voted 80 per cent in balloting that ended Friday to back HEU’s action plan to protect jobs, fight deep cuts to Medicare and privatization.

The action followed a spate of job action by HEU members at Lions Gate and Vancouver Hospital last week, to protest plans by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority to privatize laundry and some housekeeping services in just the first wave of privatization initiatives.