HEU’s message of defiance delivered to Premier’s doorstep

More than 600 HEU members from every corner of the province took their message of defiance to the doorstep of Premier Gordon Campbell’s constituency office Tuesday in a day marked by marches, occupations and rallies across Vancouver and Richmond.

Throughout the day, health care workers served notice to employers and government that the Campbell Liberal’s reckless agenda of privatization, cuts to health services and attacks on seniors and workers would be resisted every step of the way.

It started with an occupation of the Children’s and Women’s Hospital cafeteria to show support for HEU members who are facing down an employer that’s aggressively privatizing critical health services.

Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt warned health bosses that HEU was drawing a `line in the sand.’ And he pledged that HEU will continue to vigorously fight to defend public health services and jobs.

After president Fred Muzin and Mary LaPlante paid tribute to members who’ve been disciplined over the last few months for speaking out and acting against contracting out, demonstrators left their calling card — union shop window decals — on an outpatient facility where the hospital has already contracted out cleaning services to corporate giant Aramark.

The high energy demonstration then moved on to the Point Grey Private Hospital where a hard-line employer has already replaced housekeeping, laundry and food service staff with low-waged contract workers and has now given notice to two dozen care aides — some who’ve been at the facility more than 20 years — that they face the same fate.

“We’re like family to the residents of Point Grey,” one care aide told the crowd. And the Seniors Network B.C.’s Elsie Dean warned that the Gordon Campbell government wanted to turn seniors’ care into windfall profits for big corporations. During the 12-block march to Campbell’s office, motorists, pedestrians delivered encouraging honks and words of support to the demonstrators.

B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair credited HEU’s fight for the premier’s problems in the polls. The enthusiastic crowd responded with the chant “general strike.” B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union president George Heyman warned the premier would pay the price for lying to working people.

After a quick rally at UBC Hospital — under threat from the Liberal’s health restructuring — it was on to Richmond to support community social services workers who are still waiting for negotiated pay increases that are past due.

They were met — at the meeting of community social service bosses — by a phalanx of RCMP officers who blocked all entrances to the meeting facility. But the highly disciplined gathering was still able to deliver a giant `past due’ notice to the closed-door employers’ meeting.