HEU members speak out on the picket lines

Bargaining bulletin

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HEU members were front and centre in the BC media during the first 24 hours of the province-wide strike this week, with several being quoted making strong statements in defense of public health care and decent jobs. Here’s a sample from the media coverage on Sunday and Monday:

We’re frustrated. Contracting out health-care jobs for $9 an hour doesn’t put patients first—it puts patients at risk. — HEU member Ervin Braithwaite, one of more than 200 union workers taking part in an afternoon rally at Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Times-Colonist, Victoria)

We’re on strike against the government and our employer, not the patients. We hope this job action will entice the government to come back with a more reasonable offer. — HEU Port Alberni local secretary Gay Allen (Alberni Valley Times)

The government has tried to brainwash the BC public into believing we only provide hotel services. Our workloads have gone up 30 per cent. KGH is a centralized hospital now serving outlying hospitals in the IHA because rural hospitals are being closed or downsized. — HEU diet technician Ken Robinson, Kelowna General Hospital (Penticton Herald)

There are people with like 27, 30 years—and we’re being chucked out on the street like a piece of meat—thrown out on the street. — HEU housekeeper Patricia Jensen, who got her pink slip from a Victoria hospital this spring. (CBC News, British Columbia)

Medical records worker Cheryl Searle says most HEU members are not cleaners, as the government wants people to believe. Searle says HEU members are college-educated and highly trained. But she says the government’s attitude is such that the union might as well tell high school students to forget about higher education because `we have a government here who wants to keep you all at minimum wage or just above.’ Searle says the government is very arrogant. —HEU member Cheryl Searle of Royal Columbia Hospital is quoted in a CKNW news report