IWA charged with violating CLC constitution — again

Just three weeks after it was found to be in violation of the Canadian Labour Congress constitution for its actions in B.C.’s health system, another charge has been filed against the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers Union.

On October 7, the Canadian Union of Public Employees filed a complaint with the CLC alleging that the IWA has failed to respect the work relationships established by the Hospital Employees’ Union in B.C.’s health care sector.

The new charge stems from an arrangement made between the IWA and U.S.-based Aramark that provides IWA representatives access to job applicants at company job fairs. Aramark has a $100 million contract with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority for housekeeping.

Under the pact, applicants for housekeeping positions attending a company job fair on September 24 and 25 were directed to an on site IWA representative to sign a union card and then to another room where they were required to sign a document agreeing to the terms of a contract which they were not permitted to remove from the room.

The contract in question is a “partnership agreement” signed on July 17, 2003 by IWA local 1-3567 president Sonny Ghag and an Aramark representative nearly two weeks before the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority announced that Aramark had been awarded the housekeeping contract.

“The IWA is undermining its own fight against contracting out in the forestry sector by facilitating a government agenda of contracting out in health care,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “Labour solidarity is needed to fight the widespread attacks on workers’ rights in both the public and private sectors.”

On September 17, a CLC-appointed independent umpire ruled that the IWA had violated the labour central’s constitution for its relationship with another private contractor — U.K.-based Compass Group.

IWA had until October 2 to inform the CLC of the actions it would take to come into compliance with the CLC constitution.

More than 9,000 health care workers are expected to lose their jobs to contracting out by the end of 2004 but the HEU, with support from the B.C. Federation of Labour and the CLC, has been aggressively reorganizing in the contracted out services.