HEU members fight plans to gut contract

Here’s what we can do to fight Liberal efforts to roll back our collective agreements

Health care workers across B.C. are angry and alarmed that Premier Campbell is ready to break his pre-election promise to respect signed collective agreements—a move that could come as early as mid-January. “Clearly we need to start the fight now,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic, “because we’re not going to be bullied by a Premier who lied when he told us before the election that he wouldn’t tear up our contracts.”

To begin the fight against attacks on our contract provisions and possible wage rollbacks, HEU has developed a quick Christmas action list of things you can do to mobilize opposition during the holidays. 

Quick Christmas Action List

  • contact your local MLAs to tell them how angry you are that Campbell wants to gut our agreements. MLA contact information can be found on HEU’s website, www.heu.org or phone Enquiry B.C. at 1-800-663-7867, or 604/660-2421 in Greater Vancouver;
  • write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper;
  • stay in touch with developments by phoning the special Defend Our Contracts hotline 1-800-909-4994
  • give us your e-mail address so you can be part of our rapid e-mail update list;
  • talk to your employer to put them on notice about the consequences of breaking promises and gutting collective agreements.

Bosancic says that Liberal efforts to gut agreements will require government to introduce legislation while the legislature in Victoria is sitting. While the spring session is set to begin Feb. 12, she warns that Campbell’s increasingly authoritarian government may recall MLAs for a special sitting in January to legislate a settlement on B.C. teachers and introduce bills to gut agreements at the same time.

HEU’s Provincial Executive is meeting next week to deal with a broader campaign plan and to allocate budget resources to guide our fight to protect our contract, our jobs, and the important health care services we provide in communities across B.C.

And Bosancic says that the rollback threat adds more urgency to the B.C. Federation of Labour’s fight back plan, which includes a mass rally in Victoria Feb. 19 to protest Campbell’s social and economic policies.

In the social services sector—where government is moving to eliminate successorship provisions so that it can decimate services for the mentally and physically challenged—Bosancic says HEU is already working with other unions in a coordinated fight back campaign. HEU is taking responsibility for coordinating efforts in the Greater Victoria area, and key campaign organizers are already at work.

HEU is taking concrete steps to press the Premier to live up to his commitment. Bosancic has written Campbell requesting an urgent meeting with the Premier, whose set to depart on holidays within a week. And HEU leaders are ready to join their counterparts from other public sector unions and B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair to lobby officials in Victoria.

Meanwhile other health care unions have damned Campbell’s lie. BCGEU president George Heyman warned Campbell to keep his hands off signed health care contracts. “Our members fought hard to win their agreements,” said Heyman, “They’ll fight just as hard to defend them.” And BCNU president Debra McPherson warned that threats to tear up agreements will make care for patients even worse. “All health care workers are a team,” said McPherson, “and we work together interdependently. So government should keep its hands off all health care agreements,” she warned.