Unions representing more than 60,000 health care workers are backing up their efforts to bargain wage equality for women by launching province-wide strike votes today — International Women’s Day.
The voting begins on the day when health employers are expected to table a compensation offer for 15,000 community-based caregivers — most of them women — whose wages are about $3.50 an hour less than their counterparts in hospitals and long-term care homes.
“Ending wage discrimination against women workers who deliver home and community care is long overdue,” says B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union vice-president Catherine Glennie whose union represents 11,000 mostly community-based health care workers.
“I’m hopeful that we can mark International Women’s Day with a compensation offer from health employers that puts these women caregivers on an equal footing with their sisters in hospitals and long-term care.” The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518 president Brooke Sundin agrees. “ “Closer to home” health care shouldn’t mean closer to the poverty line for the women who work in the community,” says Sundin, whose union represents 3,700 community care aides who deliver home support services. “Today, after nine weeks of bargaining, we’re looking for a signal from health employers that they’re ready to finally start paying our members what they’re worth.”
Chris Allnutt, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union hopes province-wide strike votes will help focus employers on reaching a settlement that’s fair to women and men in health care. “Our unions have tabled proposals that include equal pay for work of equal value, reduced injury rates and better care for our patients, residents and clients,” says Allnutt who represents 45,000 members in the health care talks.
“We’re hopeful that today’s strike votes send a clear signal to health employers that we need a fair offer for community caregivers and a constructive approach to the many other solutions we’ve proposed for making our health care system better.”
Collective agreements for health services and support workers expire March 31. Strike votes conclude March 16 and the results will be announced March 19.
Contacts: Brian Gardiner, BCGEU communications officer (604/291-9611, Tom Fawkes, UFCW Local 1518 communications director (604/434-3101), Dale Fuller, HEU communications officer (604/734-3431)