HEU has made important headway in its efforts to represent employees of multinational companies providing privatized health care services after workers at a Victoria long-term care facility voted to join HEU in a ballot counted at the Labour Relations Board late Friday afternoon.
Employees of the British corporation Compass Group who provide health support services at Beacon Hill Villa unanimously selected HEU as their union of choice. HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt congratulated the Compass workers and welcomed them into B.C.’s biggest health care union. Though the number of employees - 15 - is small, Allnutt says the outcome is significant and sends a clear message.
“It goes to show that workers will choose a strong union like HEU to help them improve their wages and working conditions when they are given the chance to vote without intimidation or outside interference,” says Allnutt.
Last year, the private company which owns Beacon Hill Villa was among the first health care employers to make full use of Bill 29, the Liberal government’s contract-breaking legislation. At that time, HEU members who provided housekeeping, dietary and laundry services were fired, and Compass was brought in with a new workforce and wages as low $9.50 an hour.
And it’s also the first instance, says Allnutt, where another union - which has signed a “partnership agreement” with Compass - tried to intervene in HEU’s re-organizing efforts.
A number of certification votes at other Compass facilities are still on hold and the ballot boxes sealed because of legal hurdles put up by Compass and another union. Allnutt says he’s optimistic these hurdles will soon be cleared away and the votes counted.
HEU will now turn to negotiating a first contract for the Beacon Hill Villa workers.
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