CUPE BC adds voice to growing support for HEU members

Bargaining bulletin

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Solidarity all the more important in tough times, says President O’Neill

The BC division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has joined the growing chorus in the labour movement speaking out for HEU members. Provincial president Barry O’Neill is urging all public employees to write to their Liberal MLAs in support of health care workers as they negotiate for a new collective agreement.

In his March 25 letter to all CUPE locals in BC, O’Neill reminded members that as public sector workers they have faced similar challenges, “and we have always supported our sisters and brothers as they too face the destructive trends of governments’ drive to restructure, downsize and privatize.”

O’Neill said that HEU members are facing an unprecedented attack by the BC Liberal government.

“The provincial government’s assault is an exhaustive attempt at privatizing the province’s hospital workers,” he wrote. “Solidarity —an injury to one is an injury to all — is more than an historic motto. It is our strength in times when we face demands for concessions, job losses and attempts to rip up our freely negotiated collective agreements.”

The CUPE BC president reminded his members of the important role front-line workers play in the health care system.

“For any of you who have visited a sick relative in the hospital,” he wrote, “you will appreciate the hard work and often unseen professional services of the workers who cook the meals, clean the rooms and perform numerous important and confidential clerical jobs.”

O’Neill closed his letter by asking his members to take a moment to write their Liberal MLAs and tell them “that you support the workers who provide the care to patients in our hospitals. Tell them that you expect these workers to be treated fairly at the bargaining table as they fight for their jobs, wages and benefits.”