HEU Lions Gate Hospital members press Liberal minister Whittred for answers

Last week’s sit-in followed by march to North Van. MLA’s office this week

HEU members at Lion’s Gate Hospital, still smouldering over last week’s announcement by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority of the possible privatization of laundry and linen services jobs, stayed cool by walking over to Long-Term Care and Seniors Minister Katherine Whittred’s constituency office during their lunch break Thursday. More than 90 health care workers from the hospital and from other North Shore health facilities jammed into the local MLA’s Lonsdale Street office to demand a long overdue meeting with Whittred — a meeting originally requested in early February.

While the workers were vocal, they displayed remarkable restraint when discussing the Liberal government’s aggressive attack on B.C.’s public health care system with Whittred’s staff, preferring to save the heat of their dismay and anger for a face-to-face meeting with the minister. Having waited since February for an appointment, they expect have a meeting date set in the near future.

“The Lion’s Gate Hospital members are already outraged over the possible privatization of the facility’s laundry — a move that will effect 34 full-time and part-time workers,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “More than 40 sat-in last week, more than 90 rallied this week. Who knows what the response will be next week when the Campbell government, through its health authorities, is expected to announce deeper cuts to health support services, close hospitals and further dismantle public health care.”

Allnutt says that HEU members are skilled and dedicated workers who provide a wide range of health support services that have a direct impact on the quality of patient care. “They know that privatizing services will reduce service quality.”

He also notes that LGH recently returned a solid vote in favour of a comprehensive fight back plan to take on the Campbell agenda. “That puts them in a very strong position to combat these attacks on jobs and Medicare — and they’re doing just that.”