Sodexo’s wage offer an insult to workers and a recipe for chaos

HEU members strongly encouraged to attend upcoming meetings to discuss company’s offer and next steps for the union
Bargaining bulletin

On Monday, Sodexo tabled what it calls a “settlement offer” which limits wage increases for most HEU members to $1.36 or less over a five-year contract.

In some cases, Sodexo says it wants to freeze wages for existing workers for the next five years, and bring in an even lower starting wage for new hires.

It is important that you attend a membership meeting to hear the bargaining report.

HEU’s bargaining committee will be holding meetings with Sodexo members over the next two weeks to review both Sodexo’s position and the union’s next steps.

“Sodexo’s position is insulting to the women and men who clean our health facilities and take care of the dietary needs of patients and residents,” says HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy. “And the company’s low-wage strategy is a recipe for more chaos in the health care team.”

What’s next?

HEU bargaining committee members and staff representatives will meet with Sodexo members over the next two weeks. At this point there are no further talks scheduled with Sodexo and the company has called its wage position a “settlement offer”.

The union may be calling on members to prepare for a strike vote and to start the process of setting essential services for their workplaces in the event that job action occurs.

In the meantime, union members and staff continue to meet with health authorities and politicians to lobby for living wage policies for health care contractors like Sodexo.

Summary of Sodexo’s “settlement offer” on monetary issues

On January 27, the HEU bargaining committee tabled an opening position on monetary issues that that would provide decent, family-supporting wages for Sodexo workers.

On March 2, Sodexo responded with a “settlement offer” that represents a first and final position and provides minimal wage increases for some workers, wage freezes for others - and actually rolls back wage rates for newly hired workers at some of the company’s operations.

HEU’s bargaining committee told Sodexo that the proposed wage increases were inadequate and that the unequal treatment of workers based on where they work was discriminatory and unfair.

Sodexo also rejected any improvements to benefits including sick days and vacation, and they also rejected proposals to change the 50/50 cost-sharing of benefits.

The union says this places an unfair burden on low-waged workers, especially on those with families.

Sodexo proposes five-year agreements that expire September 30, 2013 for all sites except for Shannon Oaks (January 2, 2014). There are no retroactive wage increases in Sodexo’s position for workers at any of the sites.

Foyer Maillard/Shannon Oaks

120 days after signing: 1.5 %
October 1, 2010: 1.5 %
October 1, 2011: 1.5 %
October 1, 2012: 1.5 %

For the majority of workers who earn $13.05 an hour, this represents a wage increase over five years of just 80 cents or 6.4 per cent (compounded).

German-Canadian Care Home /Central Care Home

120 days after signing: 1.5 %
October 1, 2010: 1.5 %
October 1, 2011: 2.5 %
October 1, 2012: 2.5 %

For the majority of workers who earn $13.05 an hour, this represents a wage increase over five years of just $1.08 or 8.4 per cent (compounded).

Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care – Patient Food

On signing: 1.5 %
180 days after signing: 1.5 %
October 1, 2010: 3.0 %
October 1, 2011: 2.0 %
October 1, 2012: 2.0 %

For the majority of workers who earn $13.05 an hour, this represents a wage increase over five years of just $1.25 or 9.58 per cent (compounded).

Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care – Retail (Existing Employees)

Sodexo’s position is that retail food workers will get no wage increase at all over a five-year contract. They would earn the same hourly wage in 2013 that they are earning now – $13.05 an hour.

Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care – Retail (New Employees)

Sodexo would rollback the hourly wage for newly hired workers in VCHA/PHC retail food to $12 an hour immediately, and then increase that wage as follows:

October 1, 2010: 3.0 %
October 1, 2011: 2.0 %
October 1, 2012: 2.0 %

For the majority of workers, this represents an immediate wage rollback of $1.05 an hour. By the end of the contract, the hourly wage would only reach $12.86 an hour.

Fraser Health

September 1, 2009: 3.0 %
October 1, 2010: 3.0 %
October 1, 2011: 2.0 %
October 1, 2012: 2.0 %

For the majority of workers who earn $13.05 an hour, this represents a wage increase over five years of just $1.35 an hour, or a compounded wage increase of 10.65 per cent.

Progress on Health & Safety and other non-monetary issues

Negotiations with Sodexo on February 12, 13 and 18 focused on health and safety improvements, training, seniority rights, job postings/work areas and reassignment of workers who lack proper training for an assignment.

In these discussions, the union has benefitted from the hard work of union activists who have worked to focus attention on health and safety issues and especially the impact of workload and lack of training on injury rates and WCB violations.

This work was presented and discussed at the bargaining table over many days. Both sides are close to an agreement on re-training and reassignment contract language that will provide better support for workers.

While Sodexo is taking some of these issues seriously, we still have no agreement on how they will respond when serious workload problems are brought forward in the future.

This is one of the key non-monetary issues from our bargaining conference, and the union will continue to fight for workable solutions to serious health and safety issues.

There was also good progress on other issues:

  • “Bullying” has been added as unacceptable behaviour article under 1.04 Personal and Sexual Harassment.
  • Seniority rights have been broadened to allow employees to transfer to another work site if a job remains unfilled after the posting period.
  • All job postings will indicate work area and assignment.