Decent jobs lost, quality health care at risk as health authority takes a gamble on French corporation

News release

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A lucrative contract for patient food services in Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast hospitals tying taxpayers to a $300 million payout over ten years has been awarded to a foreign corporation and will result in 1,300 staff — most of them women — losing their jobs.

The Hospital Employees’ Union says the move is a risky gamble that will deprive communities from Richmond to Gibsons of skilled hospital workers who will be replaced by contract workers earning less than ten dollars an hour with few benefits.

And while most affected workers have already received lay off notices, HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says that the timing of today’s announcement is designed to intimidate union members who are in the midst of province-wide strike votes.

“This move is typical of B.C.’s health employers who’ve shown total disregard for the collective bargaining process and utter contempt for the hardworking women and men on health care’s front lines,” says Allnutt. “But to be quite frank, this announcement is just more proof to our members and the public that health employers will put everything at risk for the sake of privatization.”

Health employers have issued more than 2,500 pink slips to health workers since bargaining began at the beginning of the year on top of 6,000 workers who’ve already lost their jobs since the provincial government shredded health care collective agreements in January, 2002.

Sodexho — the French corporation awarded the contract by Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Providence Health Care — has published a union avoidance manual and was dumped by a Scottish hospital in 2002 where workers had raised concerns about staffing levels falling by more than half after cleaning services were privatized.

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications director, 604-828-6771 (cell)