Comox health care workers have voted 65 per cent in favor of an agreement with their employer that provides protection against privatization for more than 400 Hospital Employees’ Union members at St. Joseph’s General Hospital.
In exchange for concessions, HEU’s Comox local reached a local memorandum of agreement with their employer that automatically reinstate HEU members’ current wage rates and other contract provisions if HEU jobs are contracted out during the term of the agreement.
The memorandum of agreement, ratified Thursday after extensive discussions with hospital management, is in effect until March 31, 2004 and continues until a new provincial contract is negotiated.
HEU local chairperson Bonnie McGlashan says her members agreed to significant concessions in order to prevent privatization and to retain the skilled and experienced workers at the hospital.
“HEU members have acted in solidarity in defense of workers under immediate threat and in defense of public health care,” says McGlashan, a front desk receptionist at the hospital. “In the face of a government that rips up legal contracts, we have taken this action together so that we can continue the battle together.”
Under the agreement, workers providing support services - laundry, housekeeping, food services and maintenance - take an immediate wage roll-back of $1.92 an hour. The hourly wage for direct care is reduced by 20 cents an hour and wages for all other classifications are rolled back by 40 cents an hour.
Workers will also pay back wage and pay equity adjustments that came into effect earlier this year, give up three days of annual vacation and work a longer work week.
In return, the hospital management, which told the union that they have no intention to contract out HEU jobs once the agreement is in place, has agreed to immediately reinstate 2003 wage rates and all other concessions if they serve notice to contract out any HEU jobs.
The hospital had already obtained proposals from private companies to provide housekeeping, laundry and security services but sealed the bids pending negotiations with the union.
Comox HEU local