Security guards are hospital employees
HEU wins precedent-setting ruling from arbitrator
In a precedent-setting ruling, arbitrator Don Munroe has agreed with the Hospital Employees’ Union’s contention that security guards at four hospitals in the Simon Fraser Health Region are employed by SFHR, the Lower Mainland’s fourth largest employer.
The hotly-contested arbitration grew out of four separate 1998 grievances involving more than 30 security guards at Burnaby, Eagle Ridge, Royal Columbian and Ridge Meadows hospitals. The security officers had been hired by the hospitals through Paladin Security. In its arguments, HEU was successful in showing that the guards do bargaining unit work, are “true employees” of the health region, should be part of the union and covered by the Facilities Collective Agreement. The health region contended that the guards were employees of Paladin Security.
“After a long struggle, this is an important victory,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “It sends a clear message that employers cannot have the `best of both worlds’: contracting out work while exercising substantial control over the work of employees.
Health care facilities are dangerous places where workers face more on-the-job incidents of force and violence than any other occupation in B.C. “Security officers ensure a safe environment for patients, staff and the public,” says Allnutt. “They deserve the same rights and protections we enjoy because they’re an integral and vital part of our health care team.”
As employees of a private company, the security guards made as little as $8.30 per hour with no benefits. Now wages, benefits and working conditions will have to be negotiated, says Allnutt. “But it’s clear that pay rates for the guards will be increased significantly, and they will have the benefits that most B.C. workers take for granted."