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OTTAWA The move by the Campbell government to slash the wages and cut the jobs of BC health care workers is an all-out attack on women and public health care, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Lets be clear here, said Paul Moist, CUPEs National President. If men held these jobs and if Campbell werent determined to open up the health care system to foreign corporations, these workers wouldnt be on strike and the Liberals wouldnt be gutting their contracts.

The government says health care workers in British Columbia are paid better than the national average. Leaving aside the high cost of living in BC, the big difference is that health care workers in BC 80 per cent of whom are women have made more progress toward pay equity than health care workers in other parts of the country where women still lag far behind the wages of men, said Moist.

Campbell has decided these women dont deserve to earn an income thats enough to support a family, so hes slashing jobs that pay up to $20 an hour and contracting-out those jobs to foreign corporations that pocket handsome profits while paying workers $9 an hour. Thats disastrous for workers and their families, for health care and for the economy.

To back up his concerns, Moist cites a study released last week that shows that over the years the gap between the wages of BC health care workers and men doing comparable jobs has shrunk considerably. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report shows women health care workers wages approaching mens wages - until the Campbell government rammed through Bill 37.

The same report shows that wages for workers in contracted out jobs in health care in BC jobs that have been privatized to multinationals such as Sodexho, Carillion and Compass pay the lowest wages of any health care workers in Canada. These wages are less than half what a worker in a comparable male-dominated occupation would earn in BC.

From the start, Campbell has done everything he can to speed up the privatization of public health care in BC, says Moist. One of the biggest obstacles to his plan were the workers who had both a deep commitment to public health care and a strong collective agreement that protected their rights to a job and a decent wage. Ramming through this legislation is just the latest move by the Liberals to get rid of both.

The Hospital Employees Union, which represents 40,000 of the striking BC health care workers, is CUPEs BC health services division. CUPE represents more than a half million workers across Canada, including 150,000 health care workers in all provinces.

For further information, contact:

Paul Moist
CUPE National President
(613) 558-2873 (cell)

Robert Fox
CUPE Communications
(613) 795-4977 (cell)