Island members protest mass firings

HEALTH CARE WORKERS reacted swiftly this week to the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s decision to fire more than 1100 front-line staff in south and central island facilities, and contract out their work to the British multinational Compass Group.

On Monday afternoon affected workers at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital walked off the job in protest and were joined by dozens of supporters in a spontaneous demonstration against VIHA’s privatization plans.

The following morning, health care workers and their supporters remounted their protest outside the hospital and then moved it into the hospital’s cafeteria where workers demanded VIHA rescind the lay-off notices and take their cost-saving issues to the bargaining table. The protest lasted into the evening and was again remounted first thing Wednesday morning, ending at 11 am when workers who had left their jobs returned to their shifts.

Several workers at Victoria General Hospital and Queen Alexandra Centre also left their jobs to stage hour-long protests Tuesday afternoon.

In Nanaimo, more than 60 health care workers at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital gathered in the cafeteria late Tuesday morning for a study session that lasted about two hours. Before returning to work, those members who had left their shifts were told no disciplinary action would be taken against them. The protest also secured a meeting with a VIHA vice-president.

And in Duncan, affected workers at Cowichan District Hospital are staging ongoing lunch-time information pickets to publicize their fightback against the mass firings.